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Beyond box-ticking: a study of stakeholder involvement in social enterprise governance

Justin Larner (Projects Director at CommEnt CIC, Darwen, UK)
Chris Mason (Lecturer in Marketing, Faculty of Business and Enterprise, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia)

Corporate Governance

ISSN: 1472-0701

Article publication date: 1 April 2014




This paper aims to present the findings from a small study of social enterprise governance in the UK, taking a case study approach to uncover the experiences of internal actors who are involved in their board-level management.


The study took a qualitative constructionist approach, focusing on stakeholder involvement in social enterprise governance. Initial theme analysis of 14 semi-structured interviews with board or senior management representatives revealed key issues in the governance of social enterprise, which were then explored through a comparative case study of two organisations.


The study found that social enterprises surveyed employed a number of mechanisms to ensure appropriate stakeholder involvement in their governance, including adopting a participatory democratic structure which involves one or more groups of stakeholders, creation of a non-executive advisory group to inform strategic direction and adopting social accounting with external auditing. The research also highlighted the potential of the community interest company legal form for UK social enterprise, particularly in developing the role of the asset-locked body in terms of providing CIC governance oversight.

Research limitations/implications

This survey was limited to the North West of England; however its findings can potentially support innovation in conceptual developments internationally.


This research contributes to the under-researched field of social enterprise governance, potentially enabling these organisations to adopt more effective governance mechanisms that appropriately manage the involvement of beneficiaries and other stakeholders.



Received 22 June 2011 Revised 22 June 2011 Accepted 25 November 2011


Larner, J. and Mason, C. (2014), "Beyond box-ticking: a study of stakeholder involvement in social enterprise governance", Corporate Governance, Vol. 14 No. 2, pp. 181-196.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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