Context and social enterprises: which environments enable social entrepreneurship?

Ute Stephan, Emma Folmer

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


Societal challenges such as inequalities, poverty, poor health and environmental degradation are growing. Social enterprises – organisations that use market based-based activities to alleviate societal needs – and social entrepreneurs –individuals working for their own account to pursue prosocial goals to benefit others – can help to address such societal challenges. But how can social
entrepreneurship be supported through policies and other support measures?
To start answering these questions, we explored which environments enable social entrepreneurship across countries globally and across European regions. We did so by taking an institutional perspective, considering (1) formal institutions such as regulation, the welfare state and the rule of law, (2) informal institutions including cultural values and norms, social capital and religiosity, as well as (3) the alignment of formal and informal institutions. We also examined similarities and differences with commercial entrepreneurship to help start understand whether both types of entrepreneurship benefit from similar contexts, or whether there may be competing effects.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBirmingham/Brussels
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

The report is available for free download from


  • comparative entrepreneurship
  • social enterprise
  • social entrepreneurship
  • context
  • institutions
  • culture
  • institutional theory
  • welfare state
  • solidarity
  • social capital
  • rule of law
  • socially supportive culture


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