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Social enterprise in the development agenda. Opening a new road map or just a new vehicle to travel the same route?

Juan Carlos Perez de Mendiguren Castresana (Department of Business Organization, University of the Basque Country, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain)

Social Enterprise Journal

ISSN: 1750-8614

Article publication date: 11 November 2013




The paper aims to analyse the narrative that promotes “social enterprise” and “social entrepreneurship” as innovative ways of obtaining economic growth, social development and environmental sustainability for all people on the planet. It assesses their influence on current debates on the development agenda and explores some critical issues that can contribute to re-politicizing the agenda beyond the Millennium Development Goals (MGD).


Using a conceptual approach, the article identifies the discourses on which the central elements of the dominant discourse on “inclusive business” in development rest, and the empirical evidence on the results obtained from this focus. It subsequently employs different critical theoretical approaches to reformulate some of the debates and objectives that would make it possible to re-orientate the agenda from a perspective of social justice and sustainability.


As it is posed, the idea of “inclusive business” for development does enable advance in a direction that would revise the premises on development, include the normative dimension in debates, and present a new evaluative space for economic activity from the perspective of equity, social justice and human development. Making the best use of this opportunity involves deepening the proposals of the solidarity economy in continuous dialogue with other emancipatory experiences and currents of critical thought.


The paper questions some central elements of the orthodox conception of inclusive business and introduces analytical perspectives that are not commonly found in the literature on the topic.



This work was supported by the HEGOA (Institute of Development Studies) of the University of the Basque Country, and funded by the same university through the Research Group on Human Security, Local Human Development and International Cooperation 2010-2012.


Carlos Perez de Mendiguren Castresana, J. (2013), "Social enterprise in the development agenda. Opening a new road map or just a new vehicle to travel the same route?", Social Enterprise Journal, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 247-268.



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