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Journal cover: Social Enterprise Journal

Social Enterprise Journal

ISSN: 1750-8614

Online from: 2005

Subject Area: Enterprise and Innovation

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Strategies for scaling up social enterprise: lessons from early years providers

Document Information:
Title:Strategies for scaling up social enterprise: lessons from early years providers
Author(s):Fergus Lyon, (ESRC Third Sector Research Centre, and Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research, Middlesex University Business School, London, UK), Heather Fernandez, (Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research, Middlesex University Business School, London, UK)
Citation:Fergus Lyon, Heather Fernandez, (2012) "Strategies for scaling up social enterprise: lessons from early years providers", Social Enterprise Journal, Vol. 8 Iss: 1, pp.63 - 77
Keywords:Business development, Early years, Growth, Nursery education, Scaling up, Social enterprise, Social impact, Value
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/17508611211226593 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:This paper is based on work supported by the Knowledge Transfer Partnership programme, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Office for Civil Society (OCS) and the Barrow Cadbury UK Trust – the authors gratefully acknowledge this support. The authors would also like to thank the individuals who participated in the research and gave generously of their time, particularly the staff of London Early Years Foundation. The authors are grateful for comments from those attending the International Social Innovation Research Conference 2011 and the Institute of Small Business and Entrepreneurship Conference 2012. The views contained within the paper are those of the authors.

Purpose – This paper seeks to examine the strategies social enterprises can use to scale up their impact. A traditional view has been for growth to occur through expanding operations or setting up new sites owned by a single organisation. However, a range of other strategies of scaling impact outside of organisational boundaries is explored.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper is based on an analysis of one detailed and three less intensive case studies of social enterprises in the early years sector supporting children and families. These were selected purposefully to represent a cross section of types of organisation. In the detailed case study, interviews were conducted with ten nursery managers, four of the senior management team and other key stakeholders.

Findings – This paper examines alternatives for scaling up social impact ranging from maximising the impact internally (through new activities, and more sites) to growth beyond the confines of the organisation (through social franchises, use of kite marks, training and networks).

Originality/value – The paper proposes a framework to help define the strategies by which organisations can scale up their social impact. The potential impact grows when considering scaling though partnerships, relationships and dissemination of ideas, but with this increase in scale, there is a loss of control by the original innovator. The research is of value to organisations wanting to scale up and for policy makers wanting to identify suitable strategies for encouraging growth and replication.

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