5th Research Workshop "Changing social enterprises in changing territories: A multi-level perspective"

Jun 28 - Jun 29, 2021

University of Zagreb


Co-organized by EMPOWER-SE COST Action, EMES International Research Network, Aix-Marseille University, LEST CNRS and University of Zagreb

Rationale and scope of the workshop

This workshop focuses on the place and role of social enterprises in multi-level and complex governance systems, from the local territorial to the international ones, and on the ways these systems support the emergence, development and transformation of social enterprises (SE). On the one hand, we are seeing an increase in the recognition of SE at European level with dedicated programs and a growing interest in measurement, for example in the context of preparing a Social Economy satellite account. On the other hand, we are witnessing the development of local dynamics based on socio-economic and socio-political practices and experiments. In between these local and international dynamics, at the national level, a number of laws have been adopted that recognize and support the development of social enterprises.

Public policies to support SE are therefore adopted at different levels of governance. Multi-scalar dynamics are also found in the production and growth strategies of a number of social economy groups, which were initially small and local social enterprises and are now structured at the national, or even European, level. We also observe the growing importance of networks and meta-organizations at regional, national or international levels in the support and consolidation of SE.

The role of SE in territorial development is of growing interest for scholars. We consider the territory as a social construction, or “a gathering of players in a given spatial context that seeks to bring out, then attempt to resolve under environmental constraint, a shared societal or production problem” (Pecqueur & Itçaina, 2012). Territory builds up through the activities of its players in a spatial context which dimensions are not only geographical but also organizational and institutional. In the best case, the territory becomes a player itself who can rely on a governance form that gives him the possibility to speak with one voice. From this angle, the social enterprises, given their origins and characteristics, are not only part of the territory but also contribute to its building, in particular in terms of interactions, governance and social aims that extend beyond the sole economic logic.

Territorial governance, in that sense, takes a transversal meaning, both socio-economic and political, as referring to a mechanism “of coordination of players, but also of appropriation of resources and construction of the territoriality” (Leloup, Moyart & Pecqueur, 2005) in which the public policy-makers are nodal but not monopolistic. The whole challenge then consists of enrolling the territorial actors, including the social enterprises, in this process, in order to encourage their adhesion, participation and involvement in an idea of collective construction of a system of public action. How to connect issues of organizational governance and territorial governance (Richez-Battesti, 2018)?

More broadly, the territorial reference is situated at the confluence of entrepreneurial models, public policies and socio territorial mobilizations. In particular, the emergence and consolidation, in many countries, of multi-stakeholder models for the organization of the social economy is of particular interest (Itçaina, 2019).

At the same time, globalization emphasizes the need for social enterprises to go beyond local boundaries and change scale. It is then dialogue, articulation or tensions between the global and the local that are at stake for social enterprises.

The current global COVID 19 crisis puts an additional highlight on the importance of the role of the territory, multi-level analysis and complex governance systems for SE. We encourage authors, in all thematic lines, to submit proposals that address challenges related to the COVID 19 crisis.

Papers may address one of the following interrelated thematic lines:

  1. The role of the territory in SE transformation and vice versa: What is the role played by the territorial variable in these processes of change that social enterprises and the social and solidarity economy are experiencing? What is the role of social enterprises at the territorial level? What about territorial cooperation, taken by social enterprises individually or within territorial networks, clusters or meta-organizations? Is there a territorial circulation of good practices and under what conditions? What about the emergence of territorial networks? How to measure social impact at the territorial level?
  2. The analysis of social enterprises organizational changes: How to grow while keeping its local anchorage and its democratic dimension? Are new forms of hybridization, alliances, partnerships, multi-stakeholder ownership adopted? How does SEs’ organizational governance reflect (and shape) their embeddedness in ecosystems composed of multiple stakeholders? What is the role of meta-organizations and networks to support SE toward organizational change and territorial transformation?
  3. The articulation, complementarity or tensions between different levels: how to articulate different levels of analysis? How to go from local to global? Or from global to local? How to foster social change at different levels/scales? How to scale up, disseminate social innovation and drive social transformation? What is the impact of the different laws and public regulations on social enterprises? What’s about cooperation of researchers and practitioners at different levels? A particular attention will be given to the meso level as a relevant leverage for collective action: is there a place for the meso level to analyze coordination between SE and other territorial stakeholders or institutions or, for instance, to analyze the evolutions of the organizational field? In terms of research, how to go from case studies to theoretical contributions (Eisenhardt, 1989) ?
  4. The role of SE in the transition for more sustainable territorial and global development and the role of ecosystems to support them: How can SE participate in the transition toward more sustainable societies at different levels of actions and governance? What kind of partnerships, networks or hybridization processes are adopted by SE and to what extent do they induce societal change? What are the enabling and limiting (economical, political, institutional, social) characteristics of the ecosystems to foster SE development and social innovation?

This workshop is specifically addressed to scholars that have been exploring the diverse relations and synergies between socio-economic and political dynamics of social enterprises and multilevel analyses.

Workshop description

This workshop is conceived as a high-profile academic event aimed at exchanging initial thoughts in an incipient field of research covered by the EMPOWER-SE COST Action thematic line: multilevel analysis, territory and Social enterprise. One of the goals of the workshop is to contribute to EMPOWER-SE Working Group 3 on Eco-systems with regards to Multilevel analysis, territory and SE but also to create connections that can lead to future joint research proposals. Local key social enterprises will be invited to participate in a round table discussion.

An academic publication with selected papers of this EMPOWER-SE COST Action Research Workshop will be published after the event. In addition, the proceedings of the seminar as well as a Stakeholder Brief summarizing the discussion with stakeholders will be published.

Workshop scientific committee

  • Yulia Aray, Saint Petersburg State University (Russia)
  • Danijel Baturina, Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb (Croatia)
  • Anna Ciepielewska-Kowalik, Polish Academy of Sciences (Poland) Slobodan Cvejić, University of Belgrade (Serbia)
  • Slobodan Cvejić, University of Belgrade (Serbia)
  • Bernard Enjolras, Institute for Social Research (Norway)
  • Giulia Galera, EURICSE (Italy)
  • Benjamin Gidron, Ben Gurion University (Israel)
  • Lars Hulgård, Roskilde University (Denmark)
  • Benjamin Huybrechts, University of Liege (Belgium)
  • Xabier Itçaina, Sciences Po Bordeaux (France)
  • Mihaela Lambru, University of Bucharest (Romania)
  • Julien Maisonnasse, Aix-Marseille University and LEST CNRS (France)
  • Elena Meliá, Universidad Politécnica de Valencia (Spain)
  • Melinda Mihály, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies (Hungary)
  • Francesca Petrella, Aix-Marseille University and LEST CNRS (France)

Organizing committee

  • Jelena Matančević, Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb, Croatia
  • RocÍo Nogales, EMES, Belgium/Spain
  • Davorka Vidović, Faculty of Political Science, University of Zagreb (Croatia)

Disciplinary approach and abstract submissions

We invite proposals for paper presentations focusing on findings of theoretical analyses, empirical quantitative and qualitative field research, and comparative analyses covering various EU countries. We welcome the submission of papers drawing on all fields of social science (sociology, economics, political science, law, geography, social anthropology, social work, pedagogy, etc.). Interdisciplinary perspectives are particularly welcome.

Interested authors should submit a 250-300 word long abstract of their contribution that includes: author(s)’ full information (including country, gender and state whether they are early career investigators); contribution title; main research objective/question; methodological approach; (expected) results and contribution. All submissions will be made via email to the address empowerse-territory@emes.net by April 12, 2021.

A full paper template will be shared with selected authors when they are notified so they can submit their full contribution by June 1, 2021.

Targeted participants and available financial support

Researchers, including scholars from ITC countries, PhDs students and Early Careers Investigators, currently involved in the topics described above are welcome to apply. Around 25-30 papers will be selected.

Mobility (travel and accommodation) for selected presenting authors will be covered fully by the EMPOWER-SE COST Action. No other financial support will be available from the organizers.

Key dates

  • March 12, 2021 – Call published
  • April 12, 2021 – Deadline for the submission of abstracts
  • April 30, 2021 – Notification of acceptance to authors and publication of the preliminary program
  • June 1, 2021 – Submission of full papers
  • June 4, 2021 – Registration deadline
  • June 10, 2021 – Program published
  • June 28-29, 2021 – Workshop begins