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So you like to play the guitar? Music‐based social enterprise as a response to economic inactivity

Molly Scott Cato (Senior Lecturer in Social Economy at the Cardiff School of Management)
Len Arthur (Senior Lecturer at the Cardiff School of Management and Director of the Welsh Institute for Research into Cooperatives)
Russell Smith (Senior Lecturer in Economics at the Cardiff School of Management)
Tom Keenoy (Professor at the Management Centre at the University of Leicester)

Social Enterprise Journal

ISSN: 1750-8614

Article publication date: 30 March 2007




To study the relationship between organization structure and socio‐economic impact in the Welsh music industry and the potential role of social enterprises.


The economic value of social enterprise and the role of creative industries in urban regeneration are discussed from the viewpoint of the inclusion of marginalized workers, especially the young, into the labour‐market. Discusses the increasing political interest in social enterprise and explores evidence for this policy interest, including whether the nature of the governance and management structure of social enterprises influences their social and economic impacts. Reports preliminary stages of the research project and presents evidence gathered through case studies of three unnamed music businesses based in South Wales comprising: a development agency based on co‐operative principles; a loosely organized collective of practitioners and trainers; and a limited liability company. Explains that all three companies began by focusing on hip‐hop music but have developed in different directions and have also developed distinct forms of governance, and this enable the relationship between governance, the music industry, and socio‐economic outcomes to be studied.


The critical analysis of the potential of social enterprises to achieve social and economic regeneration supports the authors’ own conception of mutual economic activity in terms of what they call “associative entrepreneurship”. Concludes that this concept is needed because the existing definition of social enterprise has become too wide to have analytical value. Notes that the authors hope to present the research findings to a conference of creative industries’ academics in the coming year.


Presents the authors’ preliminary attempts to apply their knowledge of the social economy to the music industry as the first stage of a research project funded by the Welsh Assembly.



Cato, M.S., Arthur, L., Smith, R. and Keenoy, T. (2007), "So you like to play the guitar? Music‐based social enterprise as a response to economic inactivity", Social Enterprise Journal, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 101-112.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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