Business as Usual or Economic Innovation?: Work, Markets and Growth in Community and Social Enterprises

Business as Usual or Economic Innovation?: Work, Markets and Growth in Community and Social Enterprises
Jenny Cameron, University of Newcastle
22.07.10

In the Western world, social enterprises are increasingly seen by governments and non-government agencies as important for addressing social and economic exclusion, and providing much-needed services to disadvantaged people and places. But in order to fulfil expectations, social enterprises seem to be turning more and more to mainstream business practices thereby putting at risk the very characteristics that distinguish them from conventional businesses. In this paper, I ask whether social enterprises have to follow a business-as-usual approach or whether there are other economic practices that social enterprises can draw on to achieve their social (and environmental) ambitions. To do this, I examine two Australian initiatives that operate in economically novel ways, and I argue that these enterprises demonstrate the variety of largely untapped economic innovations that can be used to build viable social enterprises.

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