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The development of social enterprise in the UK. Some operational and theoretical contributions to knowledge.

Bull, Mike (2015) The development of social enterprise in the UK. Some operational and theoretical contributions to knowledge. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

Social enterprise is an 'emerging' research paradigm, yet it is not an entirely new phenomenon. There are calls from academics, policy makers and practitioners for greater understanding of the organisational models and business practices of social enterprises which this research thesis aims to contribute to. This thesis is based on a selection of my previously published research in the field of social enterprise. The eight publications selected have contributed to knowledge about both operational concepts and the theory building of social enterprise in the UK. My research in this subject area began in 2004 at a time when the concept of social enterprise was in its infancy. The fieldwork was conducted between 2004 and 2007. The publications based on the fieldwork span from 2006 to 2014. I begin this thesis with a contextual commentary on the field of research. The commentary charts theoretical conceptualisations of social enterprise. I map out how my research links to the broader research and policy landscape of social enterprise in the UK. Thereafter I summarise the contributions to knowledge made by each of my eight publications. I conclude by synthesising my overall findings. I draw attention to some operational challenges, such as financial sustainability and social performance management, as well consolidating my thinking around the theoretical conceptualisation of social enterprise in the UK. In doing so I conclude with a new theoretical framework that I have developed whilst writing this thesis. The theoretical framework aims to emphasise the breadth of organisational forms of social enterprise. The final section of the thesis includes a critical reflection and outlines directions for further research.

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