Since the 1980s both the United States and Europe have experienced a simultaneous expansion in social enterprise. However, little has been written comparing and contrasting American and European conceptions of social enterprise resulting in difficulty communicating on the topic and missed opportunities to learn and build on foreign experience. To address this need, this paper compares and contrasts American and European social enterprise through an extensive review of literature from the two regions and discussions with social enterprise researchers on both sides of the Atlantic. It outlines the definitions of social enterprise used by American and European academics and practitioners, identifies historical factors promoting and shaping different conceptions of social enterprise, and highlights the differing institutional and legal environments in which it operates. It concludes by identifying what Americans and Europeans can learn from each others’ experience with social enterprise.
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Dennis Young, personal communication.
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An earlier version of this paper appeared as part of the ARNOVA Occasional Paper Series as “Social Enterprise in the United States and Abroad: Learning from Our Differences,” in R. Mosher-Williams (ed.), Research on Social Entrepreneurship, ARNOVA Occasional Paper Series 1(3), 2006.
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Kerlin, J.A. Social Enterprise in the United States and Europe: Understanding and Learning from the Differences. Voluntas 17, 246–262 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-006-9016-2