Towards an Understanding of the Economies of Neighbourhoods and Communities
Edited by Maarten van Ham, Darja Reuschke, Reinout Kleinhans, Colin Mason and Stephen Syrett
Chapter 8: Conceptual foundations: community-based enterprise and community development
In a context of increasing globalization and neoliberal economic policies, to what extent can local communities respond to the social, cultural, economic and environmental impacts posed by those processes? This chapter provides a conceptual foundation for understanding one particular community response that emerges from local cultural and collective action. ‘Community-based enterprise’ (CBE) is the vehicle in which the community creates an entity that constitutes the community as both an entrepreneur and an enterprise addressing economic, social and environmental challenges holistically. We define ‘CBE’, as a community acting corporately as both entrepreneur and enterprise in pursuit of community common good. This form of enterprise departs from traditional models of entrepreneur in which the agent is an individual or a group of individuals. The basis for this chapter begins in communities in the global south, but extends to communities in the global north. It examines the social, environmental, economic and/or political conditions associated with the emergence of CBEs. It also points out the role that collective action, forms of social capital and size play in its creation. We consider also their typical characteristics such as rootedness in available community skills, multiplicity of goals as well as prevailing community participation and governance structures. The effects of CBEs on fostering entrepreneurship within communities as well as similar developments in neighbouring communities are outlined as well. We discuss challenges to CBE in the form of balancing individual and collective outcomes, of reconciling social, economic and environmental goals and withstanding the pressures of globalization and generational change. We conclude by outlining a future research agenda.
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