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Understanding social enterprise in The Netherlands: An application of the macro-institutional social enterprise framework to identify the institutional characteristics of social enterprise in The Netherlands

Joost Willem Backer (University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Social Enterprise Journal

ISSN: 1750-8614

Article publication date: 9 December 2019

Issue publication date: 29 January 2020

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to provide a qualitative country case study of The Netherlands, adopting the macro-institutional social enterprise (MISE) framework as developed by Kerlin (2009, 2013, 2017). The research question is twofold: How does the institutional context shape the social enterprise country model in The Netherlands, and To what extent can the MISE framework be a useful tool in explaining this dynamic between the institutional context and social enterprise country model?

Design/methodology/approach

This research applies the MISE framework developed by Kerlin (2017), which is founded upon the historical institutionalist approach.

Findings

The analysis of the institutional context in The Netherlands shows that the country context shares most traits with the autonomous diverse model. Its institutional environment should however be more enabling for the development of social enterprises. This discrepancy is explained through the notion of political will, resulting in the suggestion that the historical institutionalist approach of the MISE framework could be expanded by a greater focus on political will.

Research limitations/implications

To investigate the Dutch social enterprise country model, this paper principally relies on external sources, including surveys (McKinsey, 2016; PwC, 2016; Social Enterprise NL, 2015; 2016; 2018). This is problematic due to its subjective nature, small population size used and potential conceptual misfit with the definitions used in this research.

Practical implications

For academia, this paper enhances the understanding of the relations between the institutional environment and social enterprise by adding a case study of The Netherlands to the body of research around the MISE framework. Furthermore, the paper suggests to enhance the historical institutionalist approach of the MISE framework with a greater focus on political will. For advocates of social enterprises in The Netherlands, including policymakers, this paper may add to their understanding of the current developments around social enterprise in The Netherlands and possibly enhance their effectiveness of advocating for policies that are conducive to the development of social enterprises.

Originality/value

This research is the first in applying a universally applicable theoretical framework to the context of The Netherlands. For scholars of social enterprise in The Netherlands, it provides a comprehensive overview of developments of social enterprise in the country over recent years, as well as a thorough analysis of the current state of affairs. For international scholars of social enterprise, this research provides a case of comparison with other countries, taking into account all main institutions that shape a country and social enterprise in that country. For scholars of the MISE framework, this research offers an additional country case study that further helps improve the framework.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

A special thanks to Paul Raekstad, who inspired the author to start this research; Maarten Hogenstijn, for his support during the process; Bok Jonathan Jeong and Jonathan Evans, for their bright minds and invaluable feedback; colleagues at Social Enterprise NL and the Code Social Enterprises, without whom the author feels he would never have been inspired; parents Piet and Harriëtte Backer, and brother Martijn Backer, for everything; To the editors of this Journal for their useful feedback; finally, thanks to all other people who have supported the author indirectly. You know who you are.

Citation

Backer, J.W. (2020), "Understanding social enterprise in The Netherlands: An application of the macro-institutional social enterprise framework to identify the institutional characteristics of social enterprise in The Netherlands", Social Enterprise Journal, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 18-45. https://doi.org/10.1108/SEJ-04-2019-0025

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited