Pedro Henrique Gorayeb Vitoriano
The Scalability of UK-based Social Enterprises: case studies on organisations working in the field of community development.
This research aims to analyse the key issues influencing the scalability of UK-based social enterprises working in the field of community development. By identifying the main factors that affect the organisation scalability, the study proposes to assist social ventures in maximizing their social impact. In order to do so, this research triangulates data from literature review, in-depth case studies of selected organisations, and semi-structured interviews with social enterprise associations.
The literature review focuses on the understanding of what a social enterprise is, the context in which it has evolved, and the role it plays within the current socioeconomic scenario. Literature is also available on the key success factors for small and medium enterprises and social enterprises alike. Studies point to different factors that affect the scalability of British social ventures, ranging from governmental regulations to time availability of the management team. Such factors can be grouped into three categories: characteristics of the business environment, enterprise business model, and factors internal to the organisation. Nevertheless, such studies are usually cross-sectorial and thus may overlook the unique aspects of specific subsectors.
Herein lays the contribution of this research: it investigates the factors that particularly influence the scalability of community development social enterprises. There are three main reasons for the choice of this kind of organisation. The first relates to the impact these ventures intend to have: a significant proportion of them pursues social and economic development for the most deprived communities of the country. The second one is the large number of such organisations in the UK, where they usually take the form of development trusts. Third is the fact that the great majority of these enterprises stay small, apparently struggling more than other social ventures to gain scale.
The field research consists of cases studies of social enterprises that managed to gain scale (at least one being clearly superior to the sector average). The study of these “successful” examples intends to highlight the factors that have enabled them to outperform their counterparts, and were selected from different parts of the UK in order to make them geographically representative. Nevertheless, the research is qualitative and does not aim to have statistical relevance. Finally, with the purpose of mitigating any specific bias that might emerge from the limited number of case studies, managers of development trust associations are interviewed, since they have a more holistic view of the sector.
While this research is still a work in progress, its results will ultimately be the base for a set of specific recommendations for social enterprises working in the field of community development on how to scale their social, economic and environmental impacts.
Key words: Social Enterprise; Key Success Factors; Community Development; Development Trusts