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The Weight of the Social Economy

An International Perspective

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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.
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Mapping Social Enterprise in the UK. Definitions, Typologies and Hybrids

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Roger SPEAR

Professor, Department of Innovation and Engineering,Open University, United Kingdom

Hybridity refers to a mixing of features from different types. There are different approaches to hybridity in the third sector and social economy, where so-called “social enterprises” seem to combine elements of non-profits, for profits, and co-operatives, and have caught the imagination of entrepreneurs, academics and policy makers alike.

The chapter examines how challenges arise in mapping social enterprise considered as a hybrid form, both conceptual and methodological. These include difficulties in defining operational criteria, matching to varied sampling frames, and making judgments about boundary cases. The chapter examines UK attempts to address these challenges but draws on other national and international experiences.

There are four major issues that need addressing for a successful mapping exercise: firstly definitional issues since the criteria for defining a particular type of organization are not always easy to apply; secondly population issues, since it is important to ascertain in which population of organizations can one find the defined type; thirdly the sampling frame issues (and sampling) since it is necessary to find one or more databases which includes the population of organizations of interest (even if other types are also included); and mapping strategies which may be several to triangulate the identification of the type of organization of interest.

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