3<sup>rd</sup> Edition of the Best Paper Award on the 6<sup>th</sup> EMES Conference

3rd Edition of the Best Paper Award on the 6th EMES Conference

This year’s EMES International Research Conference entitled “Social enterprise for sustainable societies” featured numerous papers by authors whose work represent groundbreaking theoretical or methodological research in the area of social and solidarity economy.

Best Papers selected

The papers presented on this conference were selected on the basis of the Call for the “Best Paper Award” covering ten thematic areas, with the deadline 5th June 2017. The Award was launched in two distinct categories “Best Conference Paper” and “Best PhD Presentation.”

Considering the wide scope of the 6th Conference and the relevance of sustainability for many disciplines, EMES has been this year very successful in expanding the circle of scholars who contributed to and participated in the Conference.

Altogether 84 high quality papers, in 4 languages, were received from the researchers of numerous countries in Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South America.

For this edition, the winners were selected by an evaluation committee composed by Sílvia Ferreira from University of Coimbra, Giulia Galera from European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises (EURICSE) and Anaïs Perilleux from the hosting organization, CIRTES, plus two members of the EMES Coordination Unit, Michaela Lednova and Rocío Nogales. The criteria of selection of the papers included quality, relevance, impact, originality, and overall contribution to the future of the research in the field of social enterprises.

Best Conference Paper

EMES Best Paper 2017 coverFor the third edition of this Award, the winners of the “Best Conference Paper” are Brett Fairbairn from University of Saskatchewan (Canada), and Markus Hanisch from Humboldt University (Germany) for their paper “Social Innovation, Conflict and the Institutionalization of German Energy Co-operatives”.

“My first reaction was surprise.” says Brett Fairbairn after he received the notification about the award. “I have not attended EMES before, and I went to the conference to learn from other researchers. I hope additional exposure means that people will send us comments and suggestions.”

In their paper, which draws lessons from the example of energy system transformation for the theory of innovation, the authors argue that the German transformation of renewables was triggered by innovative state policies and cognitive dissonance. Afterwards it was driven by both economic incentives and citizen collective action. Because the cooperative is a proven form for collective finance and participatory multi-stakeholder organization, there was a widespread adaptation and rapid diffusion of renewable energy cooperatives in the period covered in the article.

Brett further highlights his expectations about contribution of the paper to the future research “I hope our paper will draw further attention to the idea of social innovation. Properly defined and theorized (as we tried to do in the paper), social innovation is a powerful way to understand what successful social enterprises do.”

Best PhD Paper Category

EMES Best PhD Paper 2017 coverGiven the commitment of EMES with emerging scholars, the Award specifically distinguishes a PhD category but it also aims to emphasize the work of researchers who are in the initial phases of their careers. This year we were happy to have on board the Bernheim Foundation, which kindly agreed to sponsor an award in the PhD category. The winner of this year “Best PhD Paper Award” is Konstantina Zoehrer with her comparative paper “Social entrepreneurship in southeastern Europe – Comparative analysis of the case of Croatia, Serbia and Greece”.

Konstantina, PhD student from Vienna University of Economics and Business, explains that the paper is an update on her master thesis pursued during her studies on Southeastern European Studies at the University of Athens.

She clarifies her motives for a very unusual choice of countries: “Given the fact that I was looking also into the influence of international actors, I focused on the status/ relation of each country with the EU: A longtime member (Greece), a new member (Croatia) and a candidate country (Serbia). The interest in the region is also because the region is “in between” Austria and Greece, and has a very interesting interconnected past, presence and future as my involvement with The Balkan Forum teaches me every day.”

More concretely, besides the analysis and comparison of the legal and institutional frameworks in Croatia, Greece and Serbia, her paper focuses specifically on how international, European and national actors are shaping the development of social enterprises in these countries. The paper attempts to identify the stages of development, similarities, differences and challenges of this emerging sector.

Further she adds some observations about particularities and challenges of this region: “When we speak about the development of the sector, we often tend to take examples from countries and regions where access to financial and human capital are advanced and taken for granted in many ways. In the region, you can see the notion that this is not the case and that it takes cooperation, mindfulness with the use of resources and consciousness that different models are possible.”

As Konstantina says “The EMES research conference was my first international academic conference where I presented and therefore the honour of getting awarded was even more intense. As practitioners we are in between spaces like activism, policy, academia and we understand the significance that we create bridges so that understanding and knowledge from all of them are connected and thrive.”

To download the full version of the papers you can go the EMES Selected Conference Papers (ESCP) page in the EMES network website. Remember that you can contact the authors anytime to comment on their work or to share your own related research.

The full selection of ESCP from this conference will be published in the next months.

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