Social enterprise, social innovation and self-directed care: lessons from Scotland

Fiona Henderson, Kelly Hall, Audrey Mutongi, Geoff Whittam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
328 Downloads (Pure)


This study aims to explore the opportunities and challenges Self-directed Support policy has presented to Scottish social enterprises, thereby increasing understanding of emerging social care markets arising from international policy-shifts towards empowering social care users to self-direct their care.

This study used guided conversations with a purposive sample of 19 stakeholders sampled from frontline social care social enterprises; social work; third sector; health; and government.

An inconsistent social care market has emerged across Scotland as a result of policy change, providing both opportunities and challenges for social enterprises. Social innovation emerged from a supportive partnership between the local authority and social enterprise in one area, but elsewhere local authorities remained change-resistant, evidencing path dependence. Challenges included the private sector “creaming” clients and geographic areas and social enterprises being scapegoated where the local market was failing.

Research limitations/implications
This study involved a small purposively sampled group of stakeholders specifically interested in social enterprise, and hence the findings are suggestive rather than conclusive.

This paper contributes to currently limited academic understanding of the contribution of social enterprise to emerging social care markets arising from the international policy-shifts. Through an historical institutionalism lens, this study also offers new insight into interactions between public institutions and social enterprise care providers. The insights from this paper will support policymakers and researchers to develop a more equitable, sustainable future for social care provision.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)438-456
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Enterprise Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2019


  • Historical institutionalism
  • Self-directed Support
  • Social care
  • Social enterprise
  • Social innovation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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