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Older Social Entrepreneurs

Social entrepreneurship shaped by the life course: A case study of older social entrepreneurs in the UK

PhD researcher's name: Bianca Stumbitz

University/Supervisors: Middlesex (Fergus Lyon; Ian Vickers)

Partner organisation: UnLtd

Impact highlights: Research Assistant appointment; Co-authoring of two research reports commissioned by the International Labour Organisation (ILO); PhD findings influencing policy practice

Social entrepreneurship (SE) is a phenomenon of growing interest around the world. However, social entrepreneurial behaviour and characteristics of social entrepreneurs remain poorly understood, particularly those relating older social entrepreneurs. This PhD sought to address this knowledge gap by focusing on 'older social entrepreneurs' and explore how individual pathways into social enterprise are shaped by stages and events in people's lives while simultaneously embedded into socio-institutional settings.

Bianca and her career development have greatly benefitted from the CASE Studentship:

  • She has been recently appointed as Research Assistant to the Director of Research at Middlesex University Business School. Since appointed, Bianca has been involved in two research projects on small business relates issues both commissioned by ILO. She is currently involved in a 5-years long evaluation of a social enterprise support policy.
  • Since appointed, she has co-authored two ILO reports – one of which is published on the official ILO website, produced a working paper along with the partner organisation, and is currently working on other academic publications from her thesis.
  • She is teaching undergraduates on a Small Business and Enterprise module.
  • She also delivered a webinar targeting practitioners and third sector organisations. The knowledge transfer's webinar and podcast series was organised by the Third Sector Research Centre and GlobalNet21

The supervisory team also benefitted from this CASE Studentship:

  • Accessing first-hand data on older entrepreneurs and support programmes through UnLtd programmes and new data generated through the PhD.
  • The partnership between academic supervisors and UnLtd through this Case Studentship led to further research-related collaboration between both institutions both at formal and informal levels (e.g. contracts and consultations respectively).

The CASE studentship has also benefitted the partner organisation in several ways:

  • UnLtd has used Bianca's research to improve and develop programmes tailored to the needs of clients as well as a support toolkit for older social entrepreneurs.
  • As a result, a working paper was produced and this has provided UnLtd with evidence needed to disseminate their message about the potential of social entrepreneurship in later life to a range of stakeholders and so to influence policy and potentially benefiting final research users.
  • UnLd were asked by the UK Department for Work and Pensions' - Redefining Retirement team, to set up an Age Action Alliance working group on the social and economic contribution of older people.
  • UnLtd were also invited to speak at OECD conferences in France and Japan on new approaches to tackling needs of the ageing economy.
  • The research has enabled UnLtd to contribute to the development of a national citizenship service for older people.

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