The Four Inspiring Plenary Sessions of #6EMESconf

The Four Inspiring Plenary Sessions of #6EMESconf

The programme of the 6th EMES conference promises a four-day experience full of exciting workshops, thought-provoking parallel sessions and panels, and four inspiring plenary sessions. These plenaries will to cover the latest developments in the field of social and solidarity economy and social enterprises. This year the conference will attract more than 350 participants, with the top academics and researchers, but also practitionersas attendees and/or presenters.

Rationale and content of the plenary sessions

The conference will feature four plenary sessions. They will offer a variety of leading speakers and topics of interest which are expected to generate compelling discussions and conclusions covering the research agenda for social and solidarity economy and social enterprise.


Opening plenary session:

Social enterprise for sustainable societies.
From research to practice and back.

The opening plenary session will address how governments, civil society actors, non-profit leaders and the business sector are responding to current economic and social issues through seeking to discover, or rediscover, new possibilities for promoting economic approaches while targeting social aims. Social enterprises, as one of these new approaches, are therefore also facing increased global expectations.  The session will gather four acknowledged academic experts from three continents – Europe, Asia and Australia, to expand on some of the challenges faced by research in their understanding of how social enterprises can participate to a more sustainable society.

One of the plenary speakers, Marek Hudon from CERMi, ULB, expresses his enthusiasm about the plenary:

Marek Hudon (CERMi, ULB)I am delighted to be part of this opening panel! I think that the theme of social enterprise and sustainable societies is a timely and fruitful research stream.

The speakers will discuss four models of social enterprises (social cooperative, entrepreneurial non profit, public sector social enterprise and social business) stemming from the ICSEM project. Each of these four models is characterized by a specific institutional trajectory and presents unique characteristics. In addition, every type of social enterprise will be illustrated by an example (video) from several countries around of the world including Belgium, Bolivia, Italy, Korea and The Netherlands. The speakers will also reflect upon some challenges faced by research in their understanding of how social enterprises can participate to a more sustainable society. Marek Hudon describes his contribution to the panel as following:

During the panel, I will take the opportunity to introduce a recent special issue on the social economy and sustainable development that I’ve co-edited with Benjamin Huybrechts. ( ). I will also present some new empirical evidence on the increasing links between social enterprise and sustainable societies, and then suggest some conceptual and practical synergies between them.


Second plenary session:

Decentering the enterprise, recentering the social.

The second plenary session will bring us to the wider concepts of diverse economies, as an important contributor to building of economic resilience. More concretely, it will explore the facets of the research agenda of the Community Economies Research Network/Community Economies Collective (CERN/CEC), with Professor Katherine Gibson, based in Western Sydney University, as a keynote lecturer.

Katherine Gibson (CERN)According to her research, when the heterogeneity of economic practices is brought to the fore within a diverse economy, the task of building ethical economies becomes an empirical, experimental and political possibility. From this perspective, the social economy reshapes the economic terrain by highlighting the viability of diverse enterprise forms and reinvigorates the cooperative model of business, displacing the normalized capitalist firm from the centre stage of economic thinking.  We have closely looked at the CERN/CEC and the second plenary session in a previous story.


Third plenary session:

Social enterprises as hybrid organizations: A research program

I view EMES as THE key place in Europe where researchers gather to discuss issues facing social enterprises and social innovation. It was thus impossible to refuse such an invitation!

says Anne–Claire Pache, from ESSEC Business School, Paris, France who is a keynote speaker at the third plenary.

During the session, she will present her research and explore the possibilities of using the research findings in the future:

Anne-Claire Pache (ESSEC)My research has focused, over the past years, on understanding the functioning as well as the specific challenges faced by hybrid organizations. I studied, in particular, work integration social enterprises. During my presentation, I plan to step back to present my overall research program and its main findings, as well discuss avenues for future research.

explains Anne-Claire Pache.

As a second step, from a social economy perspective, Marie Bouchard, from the University of Quebec at Montréal will critically discuss the relevance of hybridity as a concept. She will also consider how it could be combined with other analytical grids such as social innovation.


Closing plenary session:

Social enterprises for sustainable societies: Policy perspectives.

The final plenary session will bring together an impressive mixture of senior academic experts, public sector officials and practitioners to address the challenges faced by social enterprises in terms of inclusiveness of policy-making process and how fluid multi-level governance can be ensured for policy measures and tools.

One of the speakers, Ariane Rodert from the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) shared with us her insights on how the research can support policy-makers:

Ariane Rodert (EESC)The social economy enterprise is still underdeveloped and in many contexts unknown – indicating a great development potential for European communities. However, a key barriers for its development remains to be low visibility and lack of recognition. This not only of the sector itself but also about the specificities and logic of this enterprise model. The research community plays a crucial role to address this barriers. As the EESC continuously has stressed – there is need for more dedicated research to the social economy sector – an element which is key for policy makers.

Given the essential role of policy-making in boosting the potential of social enterprises, the 6th EMES Conference is expected to close four days of inquiry and exchange with a call for action for public administrations at all levels.


Expected takeaways from the plenaries

The four plenary sessions represent a brilliant opportunity to spend invaluable time with the recognised researchers and experts in the field of social and solidarity economy and social enterprise coming from around the world. We believe that participants will leave feeling inspired after surrounding themselves with individuals who share the same professional goal: to discuss and harness the research on social enterprise, social entrepreneurship and social and solidarity economy across the globe.

We look forward to welcoming you!

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