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For a Better Tomorrow? Social Enterprises in Different Welfare States under Scrutiny

Social Welfare
Welfare State
Comparative Perspective
Danielle Gluns
Universität Hildesheim
Katharina Obuch
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Danielle Gluns
Universität Hildesheim
Katharina Obuch
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

Abstract

The environment of NPOs is changing: Welfare retrenchment, increased competition with for-profits and amended models for funding and providing services shift the ground upon which NPOs stand, while social and economic changes alter the challenges which they try to address. One reaction has been the rise of social enterprises. They are combining the pursuit of social goals with the logic of businesses, e.g. by trying to achieve earned income or by structuring their organizations according to business models. However, “social enterprise” is not defined unequivocally and consistently, and cannot be considered independent from context. In the field of social service provision in particular, social enterprises are deeply embedded in the respective welfare state context. Moreover, established patterns of civil society shape social enterprises. Thus, the definition and forms of social enterprises vary between countries. The paper will present the results from the first work package of the EU-sponsored FAB-Move project (“For a Better Tomorrow – Social Enterprises on the Move”). It is based on the findings from an interdisciplinary consortium of researchers from 13 countries. Some basic trends are visible: In liberal regimes and in welfare state newcomers, governments create a new legal and organizational form for social enterprises. In the corporatist world, there is not so much change, even if traditional nonprofits are pushed towards becoming more entrepreneurial. And in the social democratic model, governments tend to opt in favor of a cooperation with for-profits.