The diverse world of social enterprise

John Thompson (Huddersfield University Business School, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK)
Bob Doherty (Sustainable Enterprise Research Group, School of Management, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Publication date: 1 May 2006



The purpose of this paper is to highlight the diverse world of social enterprise.


This paper profiles 11 different social enterprises from around the world. These range from a profit‐achieving business in a very competitive industry, but one with strong social principles, through a profitable workers' co‐operative to ones needing to find financial sustainability if they are to continue their social aspirations. The paper discusses a number of key issues in defining an organisation as a social enterprise and highlights the central issue of measuring success and impact.


In some of the enterprises the important contribution of a pivotal social entrepreneur is apparent. The need to create and add value for customers and clients is always apparent, as is the need to find effective routes to market. It can be concluded that whilst certain beliefs and principles are routinely evident, social enterprises most certainly cannot be described as “one‐size‐fits‐all”.


The paper presents a collection of social enterprise stories.



Thompson, J. and Doherty, B. (2006), "The diverse world of social enterprise", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 33 No. 5/6, pp. 361-375.

Download as .RIS



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.