Developing social entrepreneurship through public procurement: a wicked problem!

Alan Aitken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
163 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose – This paper explores attempts to deliver socioeconomic benefit by developing social enterprise within the public sector supply chain. Design/methodology/approach – A case study approach is adopted which focusses on the implementation of public procurement policy intended to support social entrepreneurs (SEs) in the delivery of social care in Scotland. Socio-technical systems theory (STST) is adopted as a lens through which to explore the case. Findings – While acknowledging the contextual limits of the case study, the empirical findings recognise partial implementation of the measures intended to develop social entrepreneurship in the supply chain. The results, however, suggest that both the engagement levels of SEs and the expected socio economic benefits are yet to accrue fully. Social implications – The paper concludes that in order to achieve the expected social benefits further progress is required in engaging SEs in formal collaborations with larger, potentially for profit, organisations and also in their increased involvement in the design and commissioning of public services. Originality/value – The innovative, cross-sectional research design uses a survey based, gap analysis to provide a nuanced comparison between the views of local authority procurement officers and the opinions prevalent within social enterprise care providers and thereby to assesses the effectiveness of public policy.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research
Early online date1 Nov 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Nov 2022


  • social enterprise
  • policy
  • business development
  • Policy
  • Social enterprise
  • Business development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)


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