This paper seeks to address emerging practices of social enterprises (SEs) in China by exploring the institutional context, organisational features and legislative framework of this new phenomenon.
The analysis is based on data drawn from secondary sources (laws and regulations, forum transcripts and news reports) and primary evidence (in‐depth study of six SE cases).
The various kinds of SEs are highly diversified in terms of social mission, organisational nature, legal form, and operational pattern; the institutional context is underdeveloped, providing growing but still limited financial, intellectual, technical, and human resources; although it allows increasing space for diversified development dynamics of SEs, the legislative system regulating SEs is still flawed in several vital ways.
This paper relies heavily on qualitative research methods to make a preliminary assessment of the development of China's SEs. Neither primary nor secondary data sources collected for this paper can be used to draw any general conclusion of statistical significance.
The paper sheds light on the overall landscape of the recent development of SEs in China, providing a descriptive and normative foundation for cross‐country comparative studies and quantitative, explanatory analysis.
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