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Article citation: , (2008) "The first edition of the Social Enterprise Journal: the key challenges and future opportunities", Social Enterprise Journal, Vol. 4 Iss: 1, pp. -
I am delighted to introduce to you the first Social Enterprise Journal (SEJ) published by Emerald Group Publishing Limited. 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 like to thank Sabina Khan (Head of Policy at Social Enterprise London) who edited the first three issues of the SEJ for helping the effective transition to an academic publisher.
It is the aim of SEJ to play a key part in establishing social enterprise as a recognised sub-discipline. The journal will play a role in increasing the awareness of social enterprise within business schools. This under researched field of social enterprise clearly provides some clear opportunities for research and career opportunities. The SEJ aims to encourage both cutting edge full research papers of 5,000 words in length along with shorter 3,000 word case study papers. We are also very keen to receive papers resulting from collaboration between both academics and practitioners and also between academic institutions. It is also the aim of the journal to have significant international value and we would welcome papers from all international perspectives. This is reflected in the truly international scope of the journal board team.
From a research perspective social enterprise finds itself at a very important juncture. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Office of the Third Sector in the UK Government Cabinet Office and The Barrow Cadbury Trust have announced the call for proposals to establish a new independent, multidisciplinary research centre for the Third Sector (ESRC, 2008). As part of this bid a capacity building cluster has been requested for social enterprise. The aim will be to bringing together a critical mass of research expertise, resources and intellectual leadership.
At the same time, we continue to see dynamic growth in key parts of the sector. For instance, UK sales of fair trade products have grown to £490 m at retail value, a growth of 80 per cent on 2006 (Fairtrade Foundation, 2008; Mesure and Bloomfield, 2008). It is worth noting, UK Fairtrade sales in 1999 totalled only £16 m. However, despite their market impact fair trade social enterprise organisations remain relatively untouched by academic inquiry (Golding and Peattie, 2005; Hira and Ferrie, 2006; Nicholls and Opal, 2004). This is also mirrored in other parts of the sector.
To underpin the rational for this new centre the ESRC commissioned the writing of a monograph to establish the current level of research in the sector and the gaps in knowledge. The first SEJ call for papers identified that social enterprises have not been the subject of rigorous research. Peattie and Morley (2007) in their ESRC monograph identify the need to for research to better understand the; distinctiveness of social enterprise, international differences, the social enterprise public sector procurement interface, understand the evolution of social enterprise, the measurement of social enterprise impact and how the sector engages with external agencies.
Our first paper in this edition from Grant provides an international perspective and attempts to contextualise the development of social enterprise in New Zealand. To date social enterprise research has tended to focus on social enterprise in Europe and North America and therefore this first paper by Grant provides a useful contribution to understanding the influence of different social and political governance systems on the development of social enterprise.
Our second paper by Seanor and Meaton takes a critical look at the lessons learnt from social enterprise failure. This paper provides a useful insight into the reality of striving to achieve both social and economic missions, particularly at the interface with the public sector, where social enterprises are bidding for public sector contracts. The challenge of the triple/double bottom line is particularly acute in those organisations in transition from the voluntary/charity sector towards social enterprise. This paper captures this dynamic particularly well. In fact useful in this context is the work by Jones et al. (2007), 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. In addition to the internal challenge, the paper by Seanor and Meaton investigates the impact of moving to a more enterprising position on the trust relationships with users and the local community.
The third paper from Gibbon and Affleck provides a very useful insight into the real challenges social enterprises face when measuring their impact via social accounting and social auditing. Recently, there has been a call for the greater use of social audit tools in order to demonstrate the social enterprise added value, particularly due to the difficulty in measuring the intangible benefits (Peattie and Morley, 2007). The importance of this social impact data is viewed as important in ensuring that both public sector commissioners and procurement officers recognise the social value of social enterprises. Further research in this area of measuring the social impact and building up the evidence base is encouraged by the journal board. It is particularly important bearing in mind the primacy of the social mission in social enterprises. The UK Government has been keen to stress in both its major policy documents on social enterprise the importance of establishing the distinct value of social enterprise (Cabinet Office, 2006; Department of Trade and Industry, 2002).
The final two papers of this first edition focus on the very important area of teaching and learning of social enterprise in higher education. Peattte and Morley (2007) identify the growing list of UK business schools providing postgraduate courses in social enterprise. In addition a very welcome development is the recent inclusion of social enterprise modules and routes at undergraduate level on business management and enterprise degrees. In the UK, Manchester Metropolitan University and Liverpool John Moores University are pioneers in this area. In the USA, Professor Debbi Brock (Berea College, USA) and colleagues are carrying out some great work in the area of teaching and learning. In 2003, Professor Brock created the Social Entrepreneurship Teaching Resources Handbook for those interested in understanding and teaching in the field of social entrepreneurship. The 2008 version of this handbook has now been published by the Ashoka foundation. The editor would also like to bring your attention to the university social enterprise network web site hosted by Ashoka (www.universitynetwork.org), where those academics involved in teaching and research within the social sector can post information about both academic programmes and research. It is also worth noting here the inclusion by the UK Government of a social enterprise component into the National Curriculum for pupils aged 11-18 years of age (Social Enterprise Magazine, Cahalane, 2008). This will be implemented from September 2008 in a new plan implemented by the UK Government Department for Schools and Families. The teaching components will look at the positive impacts of social enterprise on “economic well-being” and to see social enterprise as a viable career option.
The first teaching and learning paper by Conway highlights the importance of contextualising teaching curriculum for social enterprise managers. This is also supported by Peattie and Morley (2007) who identify the need for tailor-made training for social enterprise managers. The Conway paper proposes a number of key differences between a social enterprise business plan and a business plan for a private sector firm. These differences illustrate the importance of the social and environmental performance for social enterprises. The second shorter paper in this area by Gunn, Durkin, Singh and Brown looks at the key considerations of designing teaching modules in the area of social enterprise for social policy students. The paper emphasises the importance of skills enhancement in higher education delivery (Bourner and Flowers, 1997). These authors also call for higher education to take the initiative on this emerging entrepreneurial skills agenda in order to maintain academic integrity.
It is our aim with the SEJ to increase from the previous one issue per annum to three. In addition to the above areas of measurement, international dimensions, challenges of transition and teaching and learning for social enterprise, we would welcome papers in a number of multi-disciplinary research areas including, but not limited to:
We would now welcome papers and authors are requested to submit articles for consideration by following the author guidelines at the end of this issue or on the journal website at www.emeraldinsight.com/sej.htm. In addition, we will be attending a number of major conferences this year including the 5th Annual Social Enterprise Research Conference on 26 and 27 June at London South Bank University where we are planning a special conference edition of SEJ. More conference details are available at: www.lsbu.ac.uk/bcim/cgcm/conferences/serc/2008
In addition, the 8th International Conference of International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR) and the 2nd EMES (European Research Network) and ISTR European Conference titled “The Third Sector and Sustainable Social Change: New Frontiers for Research” will take place between 9 and 12 July 2008, in Barcelona, Spain. More information available at: www.emes.net or www.istr.org
Last, but by no means least I would like to thank Emerald for having the clear vision to bring this scholarship in social enterprise to its international readership.
Bourner, T. and Flowers, S. (1997), “Teaching and learning methods in higher education: a glimpse of the future”, Reflections on Higher Education, Vol. 9, pp. 77-102, available at: www.bbk.ac.uk/asd/bourne.htm
Cabinet Office (2006), Scaling New Heights, Third Sector Office, London.
Cahalane, C. (2008), “Social enterprise on school curriculum”, Social Enterprise Magazine, February, p. 5.
Department of Trade and Industry (2002), Social Enterprise – A Strategy for Success, Department of Trade and Industry, London.
ESRC (2008), Centre for Third Sector Research: Call Specification, a Joint Initiative Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, Office of the Third Sector and the Barrow Cadbury Trust, ESRC, Swindon.
Fairtrade Foundation (2008), Tipping the Balance: The Fairtrade Foundation's Vision for Transforming Trade 2008-2012, Fairtrade Foundation, London.
Golding, K. and Peattie, K. (2005), “In search of a golden blend: perspectives on the marketing of fair trade coffee”, Sustainable Development, Vol. 13, pp. 154-65.
Hira, A. and Ferrie, J. (2006), “Fair trade: three key challenges for reaching the mainstream”, Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 63, pp. 107-18.
Jones, D., Keogh, B. and O'Leary, H. (2007), Developing the Social Economy: Critical Review of the Literature, Social Enterprise Institute, Edinburgh.
Mesure, S. and Bloomfield, S. (2008), “Fairtrade profits rise, but is the small farmer missing out?”, The Independent on Sunday, 24 February, pp. 6-7.
Nicholls, A. and Opal, C. (2004), Fair Trade: Market-Driven Ethical Consumption, Sage, London.
Peattie, K. and Morley, A. (2007), Social Enterprises: Diversity and Dynamics, Contexts and Contributions – A Research Monograph, ESRC & BRASS Research Centre, Cardiff.