The role of institutional and stakeholder networks in shaping social enterprise ecosystems in Europe

Richard Hazenberg, Meanu Bajwa-Patel, Micaela Mazzei, Michael James Roy, Simone Baglioni

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Purpose – This paper draws upon prior research that built a theoretical framework for the emergence of social enterprise ecosystems based upon biological evolutionary theory. This paper seeks to extend this previous research by practically applying the theory to the development of stakeholder and institutional networks across Europe. Design/methodology/approach – Data from in-depth semi-structured interviews and focus groups were analysed using Constant Comparison Method. Data were generated from discussions with 258 key stakeholders in 10 countries across Europe, exploring the historical, political, social, legal and economic factors that influence the patterns of social enterprise seen in each country. Findings – The results identify the emergence of four social enterprise ecosystem types (Statist-macro; Statist-micro; Private-macro; Private-micro). These are used to explain the differences found in each of the 10 country’s social enterprise ecosystems. The results are discussed in relation to evolutionary theory in social entrepreneurship and how ‘genetic’ and ‘epigenetic’ factors lead to the divergence of social enterprise ecosystems, and the impact that this has on the stakeholders and institutions that are present within them. Originality/value – A typology of ecosystems is presented, which can be used by policy-makers across Europe to understand how best to support their local social economies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-321
Number of pages20
JournalSocial Enterprise Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2016


  • Social networks
  • Europe
  • social enterprise
  • evolutionary theory
  • stakeholder networks


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