Social enterprise, social innovation and self-directed care: lessons from Scotland

Fiona Henderson (Research and Innovation Office, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK)
Kelly Hall (Department of Social Policy, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK)
Audrey Mutongi (Glasgow School for Business and Society, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK)
Geoff Whittam (Glasgow School for Business and Society, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK)

Social Enterprise Journal

ISSN: 1750-8614

Publication date: 20 May 2019



This study aims to explore the opportunities and challenges Self-directed Support policy has presented to Scottish social enterprises, thereby increasing understanding of emerging social care markets arising from international policy-shifts towards empowering social care users to self-direct their care.


This study used guided conversations with a purposive sample of 19 stakeholders sampled from frontline social care social enterprises; social work; third sector; health; and government.


An inconsistent social care market has emerged across Scotland as a result of policy change, providing both opportunities and challenges for social enterprises. Social innovation emerged from a supportive partnership between the local authority and social enterprise in one area, but elsewhere local authorities remained change-resistant, evidencing path dependence. Challenges included the private sector “creaming” clients and geographic areas and social enterprises being scapegoated where the local market was failing.

Research limitations/implications

This study involved a small purposively sampled group of stakeholders specifically interested in social enterprise, and hence the findings are suggestive rather than conclusive.


This paper contributes to currently limited academic understanding of the contribution of social enterprise to emerging social care markets arising from the international policy-shifts. Through an historical institutionalism lens, this study also offers new insight into interactions between public institutions and social enterprise care providers. The insights from this paper will support policymakers and researchers to develop a more equitable, sustainable future for social care provision.



Henderson, F., Hall, K., Mutongi, A. and Whittam, G. (2019), "Social enterprise, social innovation and self-directed care: lessons from Scotland", Social Enterprise Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.

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