SEFORÏS paper puts forward a positive view of how Welfare States and Solidarity enable Social Entrepreneurship and wins Best Paper award at leading Entrepreneurship conference

SEFORÏS paper puts forward a positive view of how Welfare States and Solidarity enable Social Entrepreneurship and  wins Best Paper award at the leading Entrepreneurship conference (BCERC).

The paper is entitled “The welfare state and social entrepreneurship: insights from a multi-level study of European Regions”. Authors are Aston University academics Emma Folmer, Anna Rebmann and Ute Stephan.

Emma, Anna and Ute investigate the relationship between solidarity attitudes and social entrepreneurship. National welfare states are an expression of solidarity. They aim to redistribute income and life chances. In turn, how extensive and ‘compassionate’ national welfare systems are depends in part on citizen’s attitudes toward solidarity including redistribution. Indeed in many countries the welfare state has increasingly come under pressure and has been downsized or ‘rolled back’ considerably (even before the 2008 financial crisis). Governments especially in developed economies increasingly see social businesses as complementing or even replacing welfare state interventions. They thus seem to expect that social enterprises will ‘fill the gap’ left by government welfare programmes.

However, we do not know much about how social entrepreneurship is related to support for and the configuration of the welfare state. Does solidarity, the foundation of the welfare state, also drive social entrepreneurship? If people support the welfare state, and thus the idea of redistribution, does that make them more likely to engage in social entrepreneurship? And if the welfare state works well, are people still inclined to start social businesses? Is it the case that large welfare states lead to complacency – if welfare states ‘take care’ of social needs then social enterprises are not needed –; or may there be spillover effects such that more expansive welfare state signal to their citizens that ‘it is good to care’ and stimulate social entrepreneurship?

The team analysed data from the European Social Survey and the Flash Euro Barometer on entrepreneurship to answer these questions. They focussed on a subset of social entrepreneurs, those that form as businesses but with a clear goal to create social or environmental benefits. As there is evidence for growing regional socioeconomic inequalities within Europe, the research took a regional perspective (while controlling for country differences).

Emma, Anna and Ute find that there are more social entrepreneurs in regions where people have more positive attitudes toward welfare state redistribution. They also observe more social entrepreneurs in regions where the welfare state is performing well. Thus, individuals are more likely to become social entrepreneurs in areas where social problems are seen as collective problems, as something that all members of society bear some responsibility for. This is in contrast with views that argue for trade-offs and suggest that welfare states may crowd out individual’s social initiative. Rather, the positive relationship between welfare state performance and the regional share of social entrepreneurship that the current study finds, means that a ‘rolling back of the state’ by itself will not result in alternative social service provision by social enterprises. A well-functioning welfare state allows social entrepreneurs to thrive. 

Post-event materials of the International SEFORÏS Conference in Birmingham available!

On 9 December 2016 SEFORÏS held an International Conference in collaboration with Aston University in Birmingham. The aim was to combine both research findings from SEFORÏS researchers and practical examples from social enterprises in Europe and China as a basis for discussion and future recommendations for policy makers. More than 75 social entrepreneurs, researchers and policy makers joined us, with lively discussions and debates as a result. The conference programme can be found once again via this link.

Our next, and final, conference is taking place on 16 and 17 March in Brussels! Save the date!

Downloadable Presentations

Introduction to SEFORÏS by Prof. Ute Stephan, Aston University, UK

Keynote by Professor Johanna Mair, Hertie School of Governance, Germany & Stanford University, USA: "Innovation and Scaling - How effective Social Entrepreneurs create Impact"

Presentation by Dr. Miriam Wolf, Hertie School of Governance, Germany: "Governance in Social Enterprises. Insights from SEFORÏS"

Presentation by Assoc. Prof. Chloé Le Coq, Stockholm School of Economics (SITE), Sweden: "Financing Social Enterprises. Insights from SEFORÏS"

Presentation by Dr. Alain Daou, KU Leuven, Belgium: "Innovation in Social Enterprises and Social Innovation. Insights from SEFORЇS"

Presentation by Dr. Marieke Huysentruyt, HEC Paris, France & Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden: "Scaling Impact in Social Enterprises. Insights from SEFORЇS"

Presentation by Dr. Emma Folmer, Aston University, UK: "Social Enterprises across Countries: More Similar than Different? Insights from SEFORЇS"

Photos

Check out the conference photos in our Facebook Album.

Video footage

All presentations, roundtable and discussions and debates have been recorded and can be found in one simple YouTube playlist below:

Funded PhD-studentships available at Aston University to pursue a PhD in Social Entrepreneurship

Aston Business School offers ESRC-funded PhD studentships as part of the Business and Management pathway in the Midlands Graduate School Doctoral Training Programme. More information about the programme can be found here. The deadline for application is Jan 24th. Please note that due to ESRC rules only UK or EU citizens can apply for this scheme.

If you are interested please contact Prof Ute Stephan u.stephan@aston.ac.uk or Dr Emma Folmer e.folmer@aston.ac.uk for discussion of social enterprise-related PhD proposals.

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