Empowering communities? Exploring roles in facilitated social enterprise

Eilidh Finlayson, Michael Roy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
444 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: States and development bodies are increasingly stimulating social enterprise activity in communities as an empowering social and economic development intervention. This type of development initiative is often facilitated by actors who are external to communities, and the role of community members is not clear. This paper aims to explore whether facilitated social enterprise benefits or disempowers communities.
Design/methodology/approach: The focus is a case study of a project based in Scotland designed to stimulate the creation of social enterprises involved in community growing. The case study approach involved a mix of methods, including formal (semi-structured) interviews, participant observation and analysis of documentary evidence. Analysis of findings was undertaken using Muñoz and Steinerowski’s (2012) theory of social entrepreneurial behaviour.
Findings: Findings suggest that social enterprise that originates outside communities and is facilitated by external actors is potentially disempowering, particularly when social enterprise development does not necessarily align with community needs. The paper reiterates findings in previous studies that certain roles in facilitated social enterprise require to be community-led. Projects that do attempt to facilitate social enterprise would benefit from community participation at the project planning stage.
Originality/value: If facilitated social enterprise is increasingly promoted as an empowering development intervention, this paper provides insight about how facilitated social enterprise occurs in practice and gives preliminary information about possible barriers to empowerment using this approach to development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-93
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Enterprise Journal
Issue number1
Early online date14 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2019


  • social enterprise
  • communities
  • economic development
  • Stakeholder roles
  • Community development
  • Social enterprise
  • Empowerment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Sociology and Political Science


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