The Role of Social Enterprises at European Level

  • Carmen Păunescu
  • Roger Evans
Part of the Contributions to Management Science book series (MANAGEMENT SC.)


The social enterprise model of business is gaining more and more in popularity since it provides opportunities to combine societal goals with commercial objectives for the benefit of both community and environment. The chapter presents the role played by European Union social enterprises in creating innovation, driving growth and reducing unemployment and poverty. It starts with refining the meanings of social enterprise to have a consistent definition which can be broadly used across all European countries. It further introduces the forms of organization of social enterprises and common fields where they operate together with associated target groups. Furthermore, a financial model for the social enterprise is introduced. The next part of the chapter discusses the ways in which social enterprises can contribute to the economy and what networks and mutual support mechanisms there are for social enterprises at European level. The chapter also brings into the discussion real case examples of social enterprises and their key success factors.


Social enterprise Social entrepreneurship Social economy Sustainability European Union 



The authors would like to extend their deep thanks and gratitude to the owners of the two social enterprises presented in this chapter, for their great support and kind help with the documentation of the two cases. Special thanks also are extended to the reviewers of this chapter for their valuable insights and opportunities for improvement offered.

Questions and Activities

  1. 1.

    For many years, people in your country and throughout the world have felt that solving major problems like hunger, fighting disease, poverty, education, etc. should be left to government. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why?

  2. 2.

    Remember and describe any relevant specific incidents, stages, and changes during your professional career and/or your private life that might affect your decision to found a social enterprise.

  3. 3.

    Describe your motives for starting a social enterprise, that is, why would you chose to start a social enterprise rather than a traditional, primarily financially oriented, company?

  4. 4.

    Discuss the different frameworks and core features of social enterprises. How are they different from commercial enterprises?

  5. 5.

    You are preparing for a meeting with a network of company owners and local government officers to discuss about the potential of social enterprises for economic regeneration and public service delivery in your local area. You researched four definitions of social enterprise that support local development in your area. Discuss these definitions with your classmates and critically look for feedback on your approach.

  6. 6.

    The availability of various non-profit, for-profit and hybrid business models should be viewed by social entrepreneurs as a menu from which they can choose the form that best suits their own business model. Social entrepreneurship relies heavily on an innovative combination of the for-profit and non-profit vehicles. Thus, there is hardly one legal form that adequately fits the whole aims of a social enterprise. Look at the different forms of organization for social enterprises presented in the chapter and comment on the challenges of designing an appropriate legal form for your social enterprise.

  7. 7.

    You are aware now of the role a social entrepreneur plays in society in what concerns solving the social problems that are not addressed yet by governmental institutions. With your classmates, in small groups, select a school-related problem to solve. Create an action plan to address the identified problem following the structure presented below:

    The school-related social problem identified is: ...............................................

    Potential solutions for addressing the problem include: ...................................

    Key stakeholders involved include: ..................................................................

    Specific, measurable steps you can take to implement the chosen solution are: .....................................................................................................................

    Feedback on implementation plan and opportunities for improvement are looked for from: ……………………………………………………………….

  8. 8.

    Your country is dealing with major issues of rural development and organic food provision. As social enterprise, what kind of products and/or services will you offer to address these issues? How does your offer help to solve the problem?

  9. 9.

    Create a funding and financial model for a social enterprise at your own choice. How are revenues generated? How can you keep costs at a minimum level? How can you ensure the financial sustainability of your social enterprise?

  10. 10.

    What are the essential groups/partners you need to involve in your social enterprise activities? How did you establish the relationships with your different partners and stakeholders? How do you collaborate with the different partners and stakeholders?

  11. 11.

    How does Alloa Community Enterprises assess its social impact at regional and national level? Who are the beneficiaries and customers of their offers? What is their desired impact?

  12. 12.

    How does Tagurpidi Lavka create change in Estonian society? Who are the beneficiaries and customers of their offers? How does the social enterprise reach its beneficiaries and customers? Assess its contribution to national economy.



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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Bucharest University of Economic StudiesBucharestRomania
  2. 2.Estonian University of Life SciencesTartuEstonia

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