Wednesday, 10 October 2012
I was at the NCVO and ISIRC conferences in Birmingham last month presenting papers on Philanthropy and Social Investment but listening to a number on developing Social Enterprise(SE). There's still a lot of discussion about what SE is and isn't but between a large number of academics no agreed definition save that "you know one when you see it" and also lots on what it isn't.
So I'm offering (again) a bottle of champagne to the best definition in 30 words or less and as someone pointed out this around the 140 character SMS/Tweet limit. We generally agreed that SE is somewhere on the spectrum between a purely "altruistic" charity and a "red in tooth and claw" commercial company but where and what does that mean?
Come on have a go, but be warned I'm hard to please and four professors have failed so far to satisfy me. Incidentally Stephen Barber (now a reader at LSBU!), gave a very whitty run down last time on the "Big Society" and likened it as liable to be ditched by Cameron if things get too hairy in the same way as Blair ditched the Stakeholder Society when it started biting him. Just how much have we heard of late?
I am still convinced that if we mention BS at all it needs to be as the "Bigger Society", since we've had a very successful Big Society, in the guise of the work of charities and community organisations for more than 100 years. Albeit at the moment, with the retreat of government, it's definitely becoming the "Smaller Society"