The Project Predecessor:


The SELUSI project (2008-2012) was an international research project on social enterprise funded by the European Commission. SELUSI initiated a large-scale panel database on social enterprises across Hungary, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the UK, in addition to launching a series of action-research experiments, pilot-testing ways to link the intelligence of social enterprises with a real world, innovation challenge advanced by a partnering business. The project strived to advance understanding of the market- and organization-level behaviors of social enterprises across Europe. Explored what kinds of specific knowledge social entrepreneurs can contribute to processes of service innovation led by mainstream businesses, and how (very practically) this expertise can be leveraged to help boost the competitiveness of Europe's services sector more generally. Below you can find more information on the project and its objectives, as well as all participating teams and partners.



Project, objectives and findings

Social Entrepreneurs as Lead Users for Service Innovation (SELUSI, 2008-2012), the predecessor of the SEFORIS project, stood on two distinct but synergetic research pillars. One pillar has aimed at furthering our understanding of emerging social ventures across Europe, approaching the phenomenon from various angles. The other pillar strove to further our understanding of open service innovations, exploring the possibility to link-up emerging social entrepreneurs as “lead users” with established corporations in open innovation projects geared towards generating novel service design concepts.

The project placed an emphasis on economic, managerial and behavioral perspectives with empirical, theoretical and experimental methodologies. SELUSI combined complementary and novel data collection possibilities: To illustrate, we developed and analyzed a unique panel dataset on the organizational behaviors and founding decisions of 800 emerging social ventures in early phase of firm maturity, as well as conducted various lab experiments the purpose of which is e.g., to better understand innovation performance under a variety of incentive schemes given heterogeneity in pro-social preferences. SELUSI experimented with action-oriented research: To illustrate, we collaborated and pilot-test SELUSI service innovation mechanisms with real-life companies and social entrepreneurs.

The SELUSI research partnership included the LSE, the IESE Business School in Barcelona, the Catholic University of Leuven, SITE at the Stockholm School of Economics, the Harvard Business School, i-propeller, NESsT and the Global Institute.

It was put together with the aims:

  1. to enable innovative interdisciplinary research: bringing together academic expertise in the fields of economics, psychology, sociology and management science.
  2. to create a trusting environment with social enterprises across Europe, as well as generate new evidence that could usefully inform the practices of network organizations.
  3. to discipline us to think through policy-relevance of our work for the understanding of social ventures in outside Europe, notably emerging economies and developing countries.
  4. to enable action-oriented research with the stimulus and support of a fresh and ambitious business that is experimenting with new ways to realize social business innovation.


Social Enterprises in Europe

We studied the market behaviors and organizational design decisions of over 800 social enterprises in Europe over time. We were interested to better understand the implications of social mission drive for managerial practices and organizational performance.

Open Service Innovation

We brought forward emerging social entrepreneurs as a powerful, yet so far untapped source of ‘external’ intelligence, ideas and technologies, and advanced and pilot-tested concrete strategies for how companies can access and leverage this intelligence in their service innovation processes.

Innovation and Economic Policy-making

From our unique blend of fundamental and applied research, we aimed to distil new public policy insights to inform EU’s policy-making with respect to the competitiveness of its service sector, the roles of social ventures and service innovation. In addition, we have taken a strong interest in thinking through the policy-making relevance of our work to non-EU emerging economies, as well as the developing world.





Core Academic Team

SELUSI Academic Team

London School of Economics

Prof. Patrick Dunleavy, Prof. Saul Estrin, Dr. Marieke Huysentruyt, Garrick Jones, and Dr. Suncica Vujic.

Catholic University of Leuven

Prof. Koenraad Debackere, Dr. Ute Stephan and Prof. Bart van Looy.

IESE Business School

Prof. Johanna Mair, Tomislav Rimac and Dr. Christian Seelos.

SITE at Stockholm of Economics

Dr. Torbjorn Becker, Prof. Tore Ellingsen, Dr. Marieke Huysentruyt, Dr. Topi Miettinen, and Emma von Essen.

Harvard Business School

Prof. Herman Leonard.

SELUSI Analysts

Cristina Alonso, Tina Basi, Niki Charalampopoulou, Mats Elzen, Genevieve Farjeat Gonzalez, Anabella Florea, Iyasu Ghirmai, Luz Gutierrez, Juan Pablo Larenas, Gauri Mahtani, Jennifer Marzullo, Vera Mazzara, Dunia Mennella, Carmen Mezinca, Visa Miettinen, Gustavo Montes de Oca, Sandrine Schoumans, Bernadett Tarjanyi, Peter Tatrai, Elias Tavsan, Lucia Torres, and Joanna Wylegala.

SELUSI Research Assistants

Phil Armour, Manasvi Menon, Olivier Darmouni, Bert Peeters and Arvind Pillaipakam-Bahukudumbi