An International Perspective
Edited By CIRIEC, Marie J. Bouchard and Damien Rousselière
What is the weight of the social economy? How should we measure it? Throughout the world, cooperatives, non-profit and mutual benefit organizations, foundations and other social enterprises play an important role in job creation, social cohesion, social innovation, regional development and environmental protection. Observations tend to confirm the ability of the social economy to contribute to balancing economies, mainly by serving as an anti-cyclical force in the face of economic crises. However, many countries and regions lack statistical information about its weight, size and scope on their territory.
This book fills a gap in the literature about the social economy. It seeks to explain why it is important to have statistics on it, to understand how they are produced, and to project how the social economy might be better understood in the future. The book offers researchers and decision-makers an overview of the current state of knowledge on these topics.
This book is the result of the International Ciriec working group on "The Weight and Size of the Social Economy – International Perspectives for the Production of Statistics for the Social Economy" developed by the CIRIEC International Scientific Commission "Social and Cooperative Economy": http://www.ciriec.uliege.be/en/research/commission-es/themes-en-cours/theme-de-recherche-1/
So, What Does a Social Economy Enterprise Produce?
← 140 | 141 → So, What Does a Social Economy
Associate professor, HEC-Management School,Université de Liège, Belgium
Senior researcher, Center for Social Economy,HEC-Management School, Université de Liège, Belgium
Whatever definition is retained, it is generally accepted that a social economy enterprise is an organization that can be considered an enterprise. By enterprise, we mean any entity designed to produce or distribute goods or services, regardless of its legal status or method of financing.1
A social economy enterprise stands out in comparison with other private providers of goods and services because it is managed according to non-capitalist objectives. This is illustrated by three characteristic traits: the social aim of the activity, the constraint on the profit distribution and democratic methods of governance (Defourny and Nyssens 2011, Mertens and Marée 2010, Barea and Monzón 2006, Bouchard et al., 2008). These characteristics have two important effects for the ideas we will be presenting. First, in much of the world, social economy enterprises often have specific legal forms, generally of an associative or cooperative nature, that offer these organizations an appropriate institutional framework in which to carry out their production activities. Second, the pursuit of a social aim very often implies relying at least partially upon non-market ← 141 | 142 → resources to cover production costs (public funding, private donations, volunteering).
These two differences have important consequences in terms of quantification: whether to generate management indicators (profitability ratios, structure ratios, etc.) or to...
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