To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Reflections on social enterprise and the Big Society

John Thompson (The Business School, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK)

Social Enterprise Journal

ISSN: 1750-8614

Article publication date: 15 November 2011



The purpose of this reflective paper is to examine the implications for the UK of Prime Minister David Cameron's declared belief that a Big Society of community entrepreneurs and volunteers will take on more and more responsibilities. Sometimes policies are spelt out in detail; this was much more conceptual and perhaps visionary.


Ideas on sense making and performance evaluation were used to provide a context and explore how various people might be expected to react.


Whilst the limited funding which accompanies the Big Society initiative will attract entrepreneurial opportunists who will be encouraged to bid for this money, if this new challenge is to succeed it must attract community entrepreneurs who see it as encouragement to start some new local initiative. Volunteering will be central to this. Positive outcomes are by no means certain.

Research limitations/implications

As things emerge and develop there will be a number of opportunities for detailed and perhaps longitudinal research into the relative success or failure of the Big Society and this devolved approach to community enterprise.

Practical implications

Talking about the Big Society and thinking about the possibilities might well encourage would‐be community entrepreneurs to step forward.


It has been argued previously that “entrepreneurship enablers” are important in economic and social regeneration. They help make it possible for would‐be entrepreneurs to emerge and succeed. This short paper expands on this argument.



Thompson, J. (2011), "Reflections on social enterprise and the Big Society", Social Enterprise Journal, Vol. 7 No. 3, pp. 219-223.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited