Social enterprise is a contested concept which has become a site for policy intervention in many countries. In the UK the government has invested significant resources in social enterprise infrastructure, partly to increase the capacity of social enterprises to deliver or replace public services. Government publications show the number of social enterprises to have increased from 5300 to 62000 over a five-year period. This chapter explores the myth of social enterprise growth in the UK through a methodological critique of the four government data sources used to construct and legitimize this myth. Particular attention is paid to how political decisions influence the construction of evidence. We find that growth is mainly attributable to political decisions to reinterpret key elements of the social enterprise definition and to include new organizational types in sampling frames.
An Affirmative Critique
Simon Teasdale, Fergus Lyon and Robyn Owen (Baldock)
Fergus Lyon and Abdullah Al Faruq
Social enterprises have a primary social or environmental objective and reach this through trading activity. The majority are small enterprises themselves, and hence provide insights into the nature of small business social responsibility. They balance the logic of commerce and the logic of social value and, hence, can be referred to as hybrid organisations. However, little is known about these organisations in a developing country context and this chapter explores the different models found in Bangladesh and Ghana. After discussing the historical context of social enterprise in each country, the chapter sets out the different forms of enterprise in the two countries. These include non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with trading activity, NGOs with subsidiaries, social businesses, private enterprises and cooperatives. The chapter concludes by presenting a framework for examining different forms of social enterprise according to the balance of their social and commercial aims and according to the balance of hierarchical and democratic governance.