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Bull, Mike and Crompton, Helen (2005) Working paper. UNSPECIFIED. UNSPECIFIED. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to present the findings of an investigation into the business practices of Social Enterprises in Greater Manchester and Lancashire. The aim was to look at the business practices of Social Enterprises (SEs) and obtain an understanding of the nuances and heterogeneity of management issues for these businesses through dense descriptive insights imbedded in the actual practices of owner/managers in SEs. Design/Methodology/Approach: A qualitative methodology was preferred seeking to understand phenomena rather than mere verification of previous theories. Identification of our participants firstly required a definition of SEs in order to recognise the phenomena and arguments are given as to our choice. The balanced scorecard [BSC] (Kaplan & Norton, 1996) was identified as a baseline and framework due to its flexibility for adaptation and its inclusive approach to business development. The paper is divided into 3 parts. In part 1 a thorough review of the literature, identifies the lack of previous academic research in this area. In part 2 we present our methodological approach. In part 3 from empirical research this paper presents the findings. Findings: Evidence from 30 interviews with owner/managers of SEs is discussed. The findings offer insights as to where the strengths and weaknesses lie in these organisations. There was generally a strong sense of mission and social ambition. We identified complex organisational structures and a general engagement with business and management issues. Many SEs were versed with planning, strategising, marketing, training and development and knowledge management. Implications: This paper provides evidence of research on the SE sector which has implications for the sector, advisors and academics. The findings suggest a learning culture from with the sector where tacit knowledge outweighed the formal engagement of learning or advisors role. Originality/Value: This research is an original contribution to knowledge surrounding the business practices of SEs. This paper offers a well researched and rigorous investigation into SEs.

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