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Taking stock of the trajectories of South Korea’s government-certified social enterprises: perspectives on a fluid semi-public sector model

Casper Hendrik Claassen (Institute for Welfare State Research, Yonsei University, Seoul, Republic of Korea and The Hahm College of Liberal Arts, Hoseo University, Seoul, Republic of Korea)
Eric Bidet (School of Law, Economics and Business Administration, Le Mans University, Le Mans, France)
Junki Kim (Graduate School of Public Administration, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea)
Yeanhee Choi (Graduate School of Public Administration, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea)

Social Enterprise Journal

ISSN: 1750-8614

Article publication date: 8 February 2024

Issue publication date: 25 April 2024

64

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to assess the alignment of South Korea’s government-certified social enterprises (GCSEs) with prevailing social enterprise (SE) models, notably the entrepreneurial nonprofit, social cooperative and social business models delineated in the “Emergence of Social Enterprises in Europe” (Defourny and Nyssens, 2012, 2017a, 2017b) and the “principle of interest” frameworks (Defourny et al., 2021). Thereby, it seeks to situate these enterprises within recognized frameworks and elucidate their hybrid identities.

Design/methodology/approach

Analyzing panel data from 2016 to 2020 for 259 GCSEs, this study uses tslearn for k-means clustering with dynamic time warping to assess their developmental trajectories and alignment with established SE models, which echoes the approach of Defourny et al. (2021). We probe the “fluid” identities of semi-public sector SEs, integrating Gordon’s (2013) notion that they tend to blend various SE traditions as opposed to existing in isolation.

Findings

Results indicate that GCSEs do align with prevalent SE frameworks. Furthermore, they represent a spectrum of SE models, suggesting the versatility of the public sector in fostering diverse types of SEs.

Originality/value

The concept of a semi-public sector SE model has been relatively uncharted, even though it holds significance for research on SE typologies and public sector entrepreneurship literature. This study bridges this gap by presenting empirical evidence of semi-public SEs and delineating the potential paths these enterprises might take as they amalgamate various SE traditions.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors thank the anonymous reviewers for their careful reading of their manuscript and their many insightful comments and suggestions. The following author has updated their affiliation: Casper Hendrik Claassen is now also at the Korea Institute of Public Affairs, Graduate School of Public Administration, Seoul National University.

Funding: The authors acknowledge the contribution of the Korea Foundation as a research and facilitation partner that aided Casper Hendrik Claassen (Korea Foundation Field Research Fellowship, 2019) in conducting field research on Korea’s social enterprises.

Conflicts of Interest: We have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Compliance with Ethical Standards and Data Availability Statement: All data is publicly accessible and has been made available by the Ministry of Employment and Labor-affiliated Korea Social Enterprise Promotion Agency of South Korea. The data can be accessed here: www.socialenterprise.or.kr/social/ente/evalGongsi.do?m_cd=E006

Citation

Claassen, C.H., Bidet, E., Kim, J. and Choi, Y. (2024), "Taking stock of the trajectories of South Korea’s government-certified social enterprises: perspectives on a fluid semi-public sector model", Social Enterprise Journal, Vol. 20 No. 3, pp. 245-277. https://doi.org/10.1108/SEJ-08-2023-0102

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2024, Emerald Publishing Limited

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