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Social Enterprise and the Big Society

Commissioned by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Istitute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE)

This ESRC/RAKE/ISBE/Barclays funded project led by CEEDR and The Guild explored the changing circumstances in which voluntary and community organisations (VCOs), charities and social enterprises operate in relation to the government's Big Society agenda. VCOs and charities are expected to move from a grant culture to one of earning income through trading, particularly to deliver public services, thus adopting the social enterprise 'business' model.

The main research question addressed by this study were: To what extent are charities and social enterprises engaging with and responding to the Big Society and what are the implications of this engagement, or the lack of it? To what extent are VCOs and charities making this transition to public service delivery social enterprises and what is the nature of the processes involved? The qualitative research approach embraced by the study consisted of interviews with organisations operating in the health and social care sector and key stakeholders in the roll out of the Big Society in the East of England.

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