This chapter focuses on the idea that the process of social entrepreneurship needs a supportive environment in order to flourish. Drawing upon biological metaphors and evolutionary theory, we show how different environmental conditions – such as historical, political, legal and economic factors – all combine to influence various types of social enterprise that can emerge in different contexts. Reflecting on extant research on social enterprise ‘ecosystems’, we also draw upon our own results of a large-scale European project to present a typology of different ‘ecosystems’ identified thus far and suggest ways in which research on this topic could be developed further in the future.
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