Activity: Academic Talks or Presentations › Invited talk › Research
In the U.K., and arguably around the world, there has been a drive towards identifying market solutions to entrenched social problems, through engagement with civil society organisations such as charities and social businesses. This has been argued as being part of a wider neoliberal policy agenda focused on new public management approaches to public service delivery and third sector reform. This policy paradigm has viewed social investment as a means of increasing the size and sustainability of social businesses, leading to interventions centred upon making the sector more ‘investment ready’. Such interventions can however, ignore the tensions that exist at the heart of social businesses in delivering social and economic outcomes, which can be exacerbated by seeking traditional market mechanisms such as investment. This can hamper attempts to grow the social business sector if the right balance is not found in policy and practice in capacity building support. This paper adopts a mixed-methods research approach to explore social business sustainability in a UK setting. The research gathered organisational demographic data and CEO perceptions to assess the investment readiness of 1,475 social businesses/charities and this data was then triangulated with qualitative data gathered from semi-structured interviews gathered from 45 key stakeholders in the sector. The data reveals that the vast majority of social businesses/charities in this study are ‘investment unready’ and instead require overtly focused capacity-building and sustainability enhancement programmes.