The second edition of the Social Enterprise Journal: the key challenges and future opportunities

Social Enterprise Journal

ISSN: 1750-8614

Article publication date: 6 June 2008



Doherty, B. (2008), "The second edition of the Social Enterprise Journal: the key challenges and future opportunities", Social Enterprise Journal, Vol. 4 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

The second edition of the Social Enterprise Journal: the key challenges and future opportunities

Article Type: Editorial From: Social Enterprise Journal, Volume 4, Issue 2

I am delighted to introduce to you the second edition of the Social Enterprise Journal (SEJ) published by Emerald. Firstly, I would like to thank the new journal board, the selected reviewers and of course, the authors for the papers enclosed. Secondly, I would also like to draw your attention to the first edition, which is now available on-line at and also in hard copy.

It is the aim of SEJ to play a key part in establishing social enterprise as a recognised sub-discipline. To this end the first paper by Ken Peattie and Adrian Morley in this edition comes from their Economic Social Research Council monograph on social enterprise (see Editorial in first edition of SEJ). This paper reviews research so far into social enterprise, looks at the research gaps and provides a very useful insight into the potential future development of the social enterprise research agenda. This is a very timely and thought provoking paper, which discusses both the distinctiveness and diversity of social enterprise. Despite the growth in social enterprise our knowledge of the field is thus far under-developed. This paper identifies the key research contributions so far and reflects on key themes which emerged when writing the monograph. Particularly interesting in this paper are the paradoxical aspects of the social enterprise research agenda and its future development.

The second paper from Mike Bull investigates the organisational development of small medium social enterprises using the organisational life cycle model. The paper looks at the critical stages to development in terms of change, growth and success. The work is relevant for practitioners, policy makers and academics who are keen on working with social enterprises to overcome the barriers to development. Bull argues that business failure and short-term existence is a feature of the sector and argues that small medium sized social enterprises are faced with more challenges than a private sector small medium sized enterprise. The paper looks at a series of case studies in the health and social care sector and identifies a number of emergent themes related to organisational development within the sector.

Our third paper from Mary O Shaughnessy explores the limitations of specific statutory support for the long-term survival of rural-based Irish Work Integration Social Enterprises (WISEs). These community based self-help initiatives are a European wide phenomenon characterised by two distinctive goals of service to the community and work integration for disadvantaged groups. They have evolved in many Irish rural locations to address some of the social service deficiencies. They combine service provision and employment opportunities for the long-term unemployed and other local groups at risk of social and economic exclusion. The paper is based on empirical research derived from a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods. The paper is very useful for policy makers in national, regional and local government. The paper clearly demonstrates the poor understanding by policy makers of the challenges faced by rural social enterprises in meeting the challenge of the double/triple bottom line.

Our fourth paper by Breda McCarthy presents a case study of a third sector arts organisation in the transition from reliance on grant funding towards a more sustainable position. Cill Rialaig Arts Centre, is developing income streams from various trading activities targeting the tourist industry. This paper captures this transitional dynamic particularly well. In fact useful in this context is the work by Jones et al., who propose a distinction in the UK between established social enterprises (50 per cent plus income from trade) and emerging social enterprises (<50 or 25-49 per cent income from trade). This appears to capture the dynamic of those charities or voluntary organisations in transition towards an enterprise orientation. This third sector organisation could learn much also from other arts and culture organisations who have moved through a similar transition from reliance on grant funding to trading income (see Mersey Dance Initiative featured in the International Journal of Social Economics, special edition on social enterprise May 2006).

The fifth paper by Professor John Thompson is a conceptual paper discussing the nature of social enterprise, social entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurs. Thompson argues that social enterprises may not be led by people we might think to describe as a social entrepreneur. And people we call social entrepreneurs may be active in organisations that are not social enterprises. He also argues that a social entrepreneur might well be involved in an activity or organisation that is not socially entrepreneurial in the way that it behaves. The paper proposes that we need to be clear what we mean by each term and accept that whilst there are links between these terms they are not bound together in a seamless manner. This paper develops further the research tradition paradox referred to by Peattie and Morley in this edition. They propose that the two strongest foundation stones of the social enterprise literature base represent two opposing traditions. One is the literature on social entrepreneurship, which has a strong emphasis on individualism and the social entrepreneur as an “heroic” individual. The other is drawn from literature of the co-operative movement with its emphasis on collectivism and co-operative effort.

It is our aim with the SEJ to increase from the previous one issue per annum to three. We would welcome papers in a number of multi-disciplinary research areas including, but not limited to:

  • Theorisation of the nature of social enterprise.

  • Distinctiveness of social enterprise.

  • International perspectives.

  • Organisational studies.

  • Strategic management tools and their application within social enterprises.

  • Entrepreneurship in social enterprises.

  • Social enterprise at the public sector interface.

  • The sustainability of social enterprise.

  • Governance systems for social enterprises.

  • Stakeholder management theory in social enterprises.

  • Performance measurement, accountability and measuring impact.

  • Social capital, building and its measurement.

  • Strategic marketing in social enterprises, providing new insights to the critical marketing literature.

  • Ethical marketing and ethical consumerism.

  • Managing people in a social enterprise environment.

  • Social enterprise and social exclusion from the labour market.

  • Network theory within the social sector.

  • Longitudinal case studies examining the emergence of management mechanisms in social enterprises.

  • Teaching and learning aspects for social enterprise.

  • Case studies which illustrate changing managerial models and practices.

  • Private/public partnerships to support achievement of social objectives in national and international contexts.

  • Innovation within the social enterprise sector in areas such as organisational form, stakeholder participation and supply chain management.

  • Knowledge management – knowledge sharing and transfer partnerships as a feature of the social enterprise culture.

  • Identification of key elements of social enterprise culture.

The SEJ call for papers and further information can be found at: Our third issue will be a special conference issue from the 5th Annual Social Enterprise Research Conference.

I would like to thank Emerald again for having the clear vision to bring this scholarship in social enterprise to its international readership.

Bob Doherty

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