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Italian Social Enterprises at the Crossroads: Their Role in the Evolution of the Welfare State

  • Enrico Testi
  • Marco Bellucci
  • Serena Franchi
  • Mario Biggeri
Original Paper

Abstract

This paper investigates the relationship between the emergence of social enterprises (SEs) and the historical development of the Italian welfare state. Our research offers a comprehensive overview of the internal and external influences that shaped the constitutive relations between the welfare state and SEs. A qualitative methodology based on semi-structured interviews and focus groups has been adopted. This study suggests that two interconnected dynamics—the emergence of new social needs being answered by private organisations and the increased prominence of third sector actors during the privatisation of the welfare state—shaped the co-evolution of the welfare state and SEs in Italy. The study also suggests that the emergence and evolution of Social Enterprises in the years leading up to 2001 was mainly a bottom-up phenomena stemming from the actions of citizens setting up private organisations (often cooperatives) to answer to social problems created by new social needs and the structural reform of the welfare state. After 2001 especially with the new law on SEs in 2016, the evolution of SEs seems to have been increasingly influenced by the surrounding ecosystem of actors and supranational policy discourses rather than SEs themselves.

Keywords

Social enterprises Welfare state Italy Third sector Social cooperatives Benefit corporation Grounded theory 

Résumé

Le présent article examine la relation qui existe entre l’émergence des entreprises sociales (ES) et le développement historique de l’État providence italien. Notre recherche offre un aperçu complet des influences internes et externes qui ont donné forme aux relations constitutives qui lient l’État providence et les ES. Une méthodologie qualitative fondée sur des entrevues et groupes de discussion semi-structurés fut adoptée. L’étude suggère que deux dynamiques interconnectées, soit l’émergence de nouveaux besoins sociaux comblés par des organismes privés et l’importance accrue des intervenants du tiers secteur dans le processus de privatisation de l’État providence, ont sculpté l’évolution conjointe de l’État providence et des ES en Italie. Elle suggère aussi que l’émergence et l’évolution des entreprises sociales avant 2001 ne furent principalement qu’un phénomène de fond découlant d’actions citoyennes donnant naissance à des organismes privés (souvent des coopératives) en réponse aux problèmes créés par les nouveaux besoins sociaux et la réforme structurelle de l’État providence. Après 2001, surtout avec l’introduction de la nouvelle loi sur les ES de 2016, l’évolution de ces dernières semble avoir été de plus en plus influencée par l’écosystème environnant des intervenants et discours politiques supranationaux plutôt que par les ES elles-mêmes.

Zusammenfassung

Diese Arbeit untersucht die Beziehung zwischen der Entstehung von Sozialunternehmen und der historischen Entwicklung des italienischen Sozialstaates. Unsere Studie bietet einen umfassenden Überblick über die internen und externen Einflüsse, die die konstitutiven Beziehungen zwischen dem Sozialstaat und den Sozialunternehmen gestalteten. Man wandte eine qualitative Methodik beruhend auf semi-strukturierten Befragungen und Fokusgruppen an. Diese Studie zeigt, dass die parallele Entwicklung des Sozialstaates und der Sozialunternehmen in Italien von zwei miteinander verbundenen Dynamiken beeinflusst wurde—der Entstehung neuer sozialer Bedürfnisse, die von privaten Organisationen erfüllt wurden und der vermehrt vorkommenden Dritter-Sektor-Akteure im Rahmen der Privatisierung des Sozialstaates. Die Studie weist zudem darauf hin, dass die Entstehung und Entwicklung der Sozialunternehmen in den Jahren vor 2001 hauptsächlich einem Bottom-up-Phänomen entsprachen, das von den Handlungen der Bürger herrührte, die private Organisationen (häufig Genossenschaften) gründeten, um auf soziale Probleme zu reagieren, die infolge neuer sozialer Bedürfnisse und der strukturellen Reform des Sozialstaates entstanden. Nach 2001 und insbesondere nach der Einführung eines neuen Gesetzes über Sozialunternehmen im Jahr 2016 scheint die Entwicklung der Sozialunternehmen vermehrt von dem umliegenden Ökosystem von Akteuren und den supranationalen politischen Diskursen beeinflusst zu werden als von den Sozialunternehmen selbst.

Resumen

El presente documento investiga la relación entre el surgimiento de las empresas sociales (SE, por sus siglas en inglés) y el desarrollo histórico del estado de bienestar italiano. Nuestra investigación ofrece una descripción general integral de las influencias internas y externas que han dado forma a las relaciones constitutivas entre el estado de bienestar y las SE. Se ha adoptado una metodología cualitativa basada en entrevistas semiestructuradas y grupos de enfoque. El presente estudio sugiere que dos dinámicas interconectadas - el surgimiento de nuevas necesidades sociales que son respondidas por organizaciones privadas y la creciente prominencia de los actores del sector terciario durante la privatización del estado de bienestar - han dado forma a la co-evolución del estado de bienestar y las SE en Italia. El estudio sugiere también que el surgimiento y evolución de las Empresas Sociales en los años anteriores a 2001 fue principalmente un fenómeno de abajo a arriba surgido de las acciones de los ciudadanos que establecieron organizaciones privadas (a menudo cooperativas) para responder a los problemas sociales creados por las nuevas necesidades sociales y la reforma estructural del estado de bienestar. A partir de 2001, especialmente con la nueva ley sobre las SE en 2016, la evolución de las SE parece haber estado influenciada cada vez más por el ecosistema circundante de actores y discursos de política supranacional en lugar de por las propias SE.

摘要

本文研究了社会企业(SE)出现与意大利福利国家历史发展之间的关系。我们的研究全面概述了形成福利国家与社会企业本构关系的内部和外部影响。研究采用了基于半结构化访谈和焦点小组的定性方法。本研究表明,两个相互联系的动态(即私营组织新社会需求的出现以及福利国家私有化过程中第三领域行为体的日益突出),形成了意大利福利国家和社会企业的共同演变。该研究还表明,截至2001年,社会企业的出现和演变,主要是由公民建立私营机构(通常是合作社)的行动所产生的自下而上的现象,以应对新社会需求所产生的社会问题和福利国家的结构改革。2001年以后,特别是在2016年随着社会企业相关新法律的实施,社会关系的演变似乎越来越受到行为体周边生态系统和超国家政策话语的影响,而不是社会企业本身的影响。

要約

本論文では、社会的企業(SE)の出現とイタリアの福祉国家の関係について調査する。本研究では、福祉国家と社会的企業の構築的関係を形成する国内外の影響における比較的概観を提示する。半構造インタビューに基づいて、定性的方法論をフォーカス・グループに適用した。 本研究では、民間企業が回答した新しい社会的必要性の出現およびイタリアにおける福祉国家と社会的企業の共進化の形成において、福祉国家での私有化の第三セクターの行為者による増加という2つの相互接続された ダイナミックを提示する。本研究では、また2001年までに主要な社会的企業の出現と進展は、主として市民活動による民間組織(しばしば企業)の設立から福祉国家の構造的な再形成と新しい社会の必要性によって生じる社会的問題の回答までの福祉国家のボトム・アップ現象であることを提示する。2001年以降から、特に2016年の社会的企業に新法では、社会的企業そのものよりもエコシステムの行為者と超国家の方針が急激に影響を与えているように思われる。

ملخص

يفحص هذا البحث العلاقة بين ظهور المؤسسات الإجتماعية(SEs) والتطور التاريخي لحالة نظام حماية رفاهية المواطنين الإيطالية. تقدم أبحاثنا لمحة شاملة عن التأثيرات الداخلية والخارجية التي شكلت العلاقات التأسيسية بين حالة الرفاهية و المؤسسات الإجتماعية(SEs). تم إعتماد منهجية نوعية تستند على مقابلات شبه منظمة ومجموعات تركيز. تقترح هذه الدراسة أن ديناميكيتين مترابطتين - ظهور إحتياجات إجتماعية جديدة تم الرد عليهم عن طريق المنظمات الخاصة وزيادة بروز الجهات الفاعلة في القطاع الثالث أثناء خصخصة نظام حماية رفاهية المواطنين - شكلت التطور المشترك لنظام حماية رفاهية المواطنين و المؤسسات الإجتماعية(SEs) في إيطاليا. تقترح الدراسة أيضا” إلى أن ظهور وتطوير المشاريع الإجتماعية في السنوات التي سبقت عام 2001 كان أساس ظاهرة من أسفل إلى أعلى الناجمة عن أعمال المواطنين الذين ينشؤون منظمات خاصة (غالبا” تعاونيات) للرد على المشاكل الإجتماعية الناشئة عن الإحتياجات الاجتماعية الجديدة والإصلاح الهيكلي لحالة نظام حماية رفاهية المواطنين. بعد عام 2001 خاصة مع القانون الجديد المتعلق بالمؤسسات الإجتماعية(SEs) في عام 2016، يبدو أن تطور المؤسسات الإجتماعية(SEs) قد تأثر بصورة متزايدة بالنظام المترابط المحيط بالجهات الفاعلة وخطابات السياسات فوق الوطنية بدل من المؤسسات الإجتماعية(SEs) نفسها.

Notes

Acknowledgements

Authors wish to thank Lorenzo Allevi, Gianni Autorino, Matteo Bartolomeo, Francesca Bensi, Stefano Betti, Marco Brintazzoli, Chiara Caparello, Guido Cisternino, Leonardo Croatto, Vladimiro D’Agostino, Davide Dal Maso, Chiara Davalli, Patrizia De Donà, Claudia Fiaschi, Sandra Gallerini, Gaia Guidotti, Luca Guzzabocca, Roberto Leonardi, Paolo Maroso, Filippo Montesi, Gianluca Raimondo, Marco Ratti, Andrea Spinetti, Marco Tognetti, Eleonora Vanni, Paolo Venturi, Viviana Viviani, Stefano Zamagni that supported this study sharing their experiences in the Italian context of social entrepreneurship.

Funding

This article is one of the results of EFESEIIS project, which has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under Grant Agreement No. 613179.

Author's Contribution

Although the paper is the result of a team effort, Marco Bellucci can be considered the author of Sections 1 and 3; Enrico Testi and Serena Franchi the authors of Section 2; Mario Biggeri the author of Section 5; Section 4 has been written collectively.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© International Society for Third-Sector Research and The Johns Hopkins University 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ARCO Action Research CO-developmentPIN S.c.r.l. Servizi didattici e scientifici per l’Università di FirenzePratoItaly
  2. 2.Department of Economics and ManagementUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly

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