3rd EMES International Research Conference on Social Enterprise

The EMES European Research Network, in partnership with the Centre for Social Entrepreneurship (Roskilde University, Denmark), organized the 3rd EMES International Research Conference, on the theme Social innovation through social entrepreneurship in civil society in July 2011, at the University of Roskilde, near Copenhagen (Denmark).

Roskilde (Denmark)

Social innovation through social entrepreneurship in civil society

Conference theme

There is a growing interest, at the international level, in exploring how social innovation can help provide novel solutions to social problems, improve social cohesion and social capital, and enhance the fabric of civil society and the third sector through greater citizen involvement and participation. Typical areas of focus for social innovations are: welfare services, work integration, social inclusion, health care, education, fair/ethical trade, community and environmental work.

Social innovation not only promises to improve the quality of life of individuals and the social cohesion of communities; in some views, it can also play a role in tackling issues of competitiveness, by improving resource efficiency, and of sustainability, by addressing environmental challenges. In this way it demonstrates that there can be win-win solutions, rather than a zero-sum game where innovation makes investors and managers win and workers and communities lose.

The field of innovation has long been dominated by the commercial and industrial domain, where technological drivers and market demand operate within models which have moved beyond the individual and the organisation to inter-organisational perspectives and cluster dynamics. More recently, service innovation has been recognised as a field that is ripe for research, and increasing numbers of researchers are currently developing new theories and obtaining research findings in this field. It is now the turn of social innovation; like in the search for the Holy Grail or the philosophers’ stone, expectations are high. It is hoped that social innovation can provide a way forward, at a time of crisis in welfare and in capitalism, where global growth fails in creating contented citizens.

There are different models of social innovation:

  • In a Schumpeterian perspective, social entrepreneurs (who work at the crossroads of market, state and civil society, and frequently use diverse resources from the public, private and third sectors) – as individuals, groups and/or networks – create social enterprises that provide new products/services, use new processes, create new configurations of resources, are active in new sectors or implement new systems of production.
  • In a civil society perspective, the dynamics of collective and democratic action and social movements articulate social needs, involve stakeholders and generate new ways of meeting needs, for example by reconfiguring resources, actors and policies.
  • In a social and solidarity economy perspective, collective action processes may be facilitated through pre-existing value-based structures, as well as through institutional configurations that have been shaped to facilitate both grassroots action and dynamic leadership from the third sector.
  • And in a perspective that builds on the established knowledge about industrial and service innovation, there are attempts to extend these concepts and theories to address social problems, firstly by examining the social impact of innovations (such as technology in health sector), and by exploring the utility of extending them into the field of social problems.

This conference aims to provide a forum for debate on new research findings and new perspectives/theories on social innovation through social entrepreneurship. It welcomes multi-disciplinary approaches and critical reflexive research; and although much current research on social enterprise and social entrepreneurship is more developed in Western countries, research on transition and less developed countries is most welcome. Indeed, since the EMES European Research Network was established in the mid-1990s, it has attempted to go beyond country and discipline-specific approaches, and has made multi-disciplinary, critical/reflexive and comparative perspectives central to its approach.

Conference venue

The conference will take place at the campus of Roskilde University (Roskilde Universitet in Danish), also known as RUC, which is 30 km away from Copenhagen (Denmark). More details about precise room location will be provided later.

Limited on-campus accommodation will be available at a residence hall (Kollegium) within walking distance of the event venue. Moreover, a list of hotels in Roskilde and Copenhagen will be made available for those participants interested. A “PhD solidarity accommodation” option will be made available for PhD students, thanks to the cooperation of Denmark-based PhD students. Please let us know if you are interested in this option.

Important dates

  • 28 January 2011 > Deadline for abstracts’ submission
  • 7 March 2011 > Notification of acceptance/rejection to authors
  • 27 May 2011 > Deadline for final papers’ submission
  • 17 June 2011 > Deadline for conference registration
  • 4 July 2011 > Conference starts


What are you interested in?