In the continuing aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, many European countries are implementing austerity measures and cuts in public policy, alongside longer trends of welfare state retrenchment. To mitigate these trends, governments are putting more emphasis on active citizenship. Citizens are supposed to take responsibility and organize themselves to fill in gaps left by spending cuts in health care, education, employment and neighbourhood governance. Active citizenship is currently perceived as a viable alternative to state-based welfare provision. While not necessarily restricted to poor areas, community enterprises (CEs) in the Netherlands respond to these changes by providing services or other benefits that are crucial to the well-being of residents in deprived neighbourhoods. Inspired by British CEs, residents in Dutch cities are trying to set up community enterprises, but they face huge challenges. The transition from ‘subsidy-dependent’ resident committees to entrepreneurial, independent community-based enterprises with a sound business model is fraught with difficulties. This chapter provides an account of emerging Dutch CEs, based on a panel study with repeated interviews. The analysis reveals strong tensions between community-based, entrepreneurial activism and the responses of local professionals. While the interviewed professionals claim to strive for co-production, the responses of their institutions are more that of ‘counter-production’, as they struggle to find a healthy balance between ‘letting go’ of bottom-up resident initiatives and ‘fitting’ them into existing practices and routines.
David Varady, Reinout Kleinhans and Maarten van Ham
The global economic crisis has had a major impact on government spending for urban regeneration. In the context of these austerity regimes, in many European countries, community entrepreneurship and active citizenship are increasingly considered as a means to continue small-scale urban revitalization. This chapter investigates recent literature on both British community enterprises (CEs) and American community development corporations (CDCs). The aim is to assess the current potential of community entrepreneurship in neighbourhood revitalization in the United States and the United Kingdom. Starting from a seminal article, this chapter reviews literature focusing on the role of CEs and CDCs in neighbourhood revitalization. Differences and similarities are analysed, taking into account national context differences. While CDCs have a relatively successful record in affordable housing production in distressed areas, CDCs are fundamentally limited in terms of reversing processes of community decline. CEs in the UK have focused on non-housing issues. Our comparison reveals similarities but also differences with regard to aims, organizational characteristics, cooperation on multiple scales, and community participation. Apart from lessons that can be learned, we provide recommendations for further research that should cover the lack of empirical evidence in this field.
Reinout Kleinhans, Darja Reuschke, Maarten van Ham, Colin Mason and Stephen Syrett
Until recently, entrepreneurship and neighbourhood studies were academic disciplines which rarely interacted with each other. However, recent macroeconomic and societal trends have pointed the spotlight on the nexus between entrepreneurship, neighbourhoods and communities, highlighting not only the importance of ‘the local’ in entrepreneurship, but also the huge gaps in our knowledge base regarding this tripartite relationship. In much of the literature, a distinction is drawn between entrepreneurship taking place in neighbourhoods or communities, and entrepreneurship taking place for neighbourhoods and communities. This chapter starts out from the international call for interdisciplinary approaches to entrepreneurship and firm formation to overcome entrepreneurship research and neighbourhood and community studies’ mutual neglect for one another’s fields of research. This introduction to a volume of chapters aims to shed light on the multiple relationships between entrepreneurship, neighbourhoods and communities across several countries. It asks how neighbourhoods and communities can shape entrepreneurship, a question for which the relevance stems from radical changes of (inter)national and regional labour markets and growing evidence that neighbourhood contexts impact on entrepreneurship and self-employment in various ways. It also asks the ‘reverse’ question: how does entrepreneurship influence neighbourhoods and communities? In doing so, the chapter (and many other chapters in the book) treat ‘community’ as a local, spatially embedded concept. Particular attention is devoted to community-based forms of enterprise and their potential for contemporary bottom-up neighbourhood regeneration.
Darja Reuschke, Reinout Kleinhans, Stephen Syrett, Maarten van Ham and Colin Mason
This chapter provides conclusions regarding all contributions to this volume, which has explored the under-researched interconnections between entrepreneurship, neighbourhoods and communities of place. The key concern has been to contribute to knowledge about how residential areas where people live (neighbourhoods) and interact with co-residents and other actors (communities) are simultaneously shaping entrepreneurship and are being shaped by entrepreneurial activity. It turns out that neighbourhood and community are not contrary but rather complementary concepts for understanding local entrepreneurship. For ‘residentially embedded entrepreneurs’, entrepreneurial activity tends to be related to local market conditions, needs and communities, while ‘residentially disembedded entrepreneurs’ have little or no connection with the local economy, neighbourhood and local place-based community. This volume has also extensively studied community enterprises. The view from entrepreneurship studies on how this type of enterprise can positively impact on neighbourhood development seems more optimistic than in neighbourhood studies where CEs were identified that do not (or cannot) act entrepreneurially in terms of profit seeking and innovation. In fact, ‘successful’ CEs have to balance the (often competing) priorities of innovation, financial stability, accountability to a wider public and long-term sustainability. Several directions for further research have been identified. First, impact and success of CEs are very difficult to assess because they operate in differing fields and timescales and deliver various social, economic and environmental benefits. Secondly, social capital is relevant for entrepreneurship and community enterprises (alongside other capital forms). Further research is required on the nature of and balance among different forms of social capital related to location, size and specific character of the community and to effectiveness and sustainability. Finally, the relationship with active citizenship and local governance merits further study, in particular collaborative arrangements which lead to the organisation, delivery and management of innovative projects by CEs.