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Understanding social enterprises in the United Kingdom: the case of South Yorkshire

Walter Mswaka (University of Huddersfield Business School, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK)
Teodósio Armindo dos Santos de Sousa (Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais (PUC Minas), Belo Horizonte, Brazil)
Huifen Cai (Middlesex University Business School, Middlesex University, London, UK)
Margie Louws (University of Warwick, Coventry, UK)

European Business Review

ISSN: 0955-534X

Article publication date: 10 October 2016




This study aims to analyse the development of social enterprises in the UK, in the context of the increased need for creative solutions to ameliorate deprivation and deliver effective public services.


The investigation draws on a mixed method approach from a postal survey of 102 social enterprises complemented by detailed analysis of two selected cases and key informant interviews.


The results of the study show that there is a paradigm shift in the practice and conceptualisation of social enterprises in South Yorkshire, as they are increasingly taking a more corporate approach to achieve their outcomes.

Research limitations/implications

The study is limited to social enterprises in South Yorkshire, UK. Further comparative analysis in other regions and social contexts is required to explore if these results are widely applicable.

Practical implications

This study is of potential benefit to researchers and those involved in formulating policies for the development and support of social enterprise.


The study contributes to the extant literature by investigation of the development of social enterprise in competitive markets, which is an area that requires further academic scrutiny. The South Yorkshire region presents an interesting case that extends our understanding of the operations of social enterprises in the UK, given the high levels of deprivation because of the steady decline of its industrial base (Bache and Chapman, 2008).



Mswaka, W., Armindo dos Santos de Sousa, T., Cai, H. and Louws, M. (2016), "Understanding social enterprises in the United Kingdom: the case of South Yorkshire", European Business Review, Vol. 28 No. 6, pp. 676-689.



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