In What Ways Are Social Enterprises Innovative

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In what ways are social enterprises innovative? Discuss by drawing on both the mainstream innovation and social innovation literature while also using substantial case studies. Introduction For over two decades, the term social enterprise has gained wider popularity in Europe and in the USA. Social enterprises are being setup by individuals or by community groups to achieve a social or environmental purpose. There are 55,000 social enterprises in UK and the list is growing every day (Appendix A). These enterprises are diverse and range from small community-owned shops to large enterprises. These enterprises in UK alone generate more than £27 billion turnover and their contribution to GDP is around £8 billion a year (Social Enterprise Action Plan – Scaling New Heights HMSO 2006). A widely accepted definition of social enterprise in UK is “A social enterprise is a business with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximize profit for shareholders and owners” (DTi, 2002). From this definition above, it is clear that a social enterprise is an organization that carries its operations as a business entity but instead of measuring only fiscal performance (profit or loss) they add another bottom line that also measures their performance in terms of positive social impact. After defining and understanding social enterprises, this paper discusses the argument in what way social enterprises are innovative. In order to understand the innovation brought to us by social enterprises, we must first understand ‘innovation’ and how it was seen in the past 5 decades (models of innovation) and what were the sources of innovation. We will also see what is a social innovation carried out by social enterprises and will see if the models and sources of

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