Social enterprises are a diverse group of enterprises: they vary in their social missions, business models, sizes, legal forms, ownership structures, growth-orientations and operation areas (see European Commission 2019; Defourny & Nyssens 2010) In this article, we adapt an European view to social enterprises. A social enterprise continuously produces and/or sells goods or services while having a high degree of autonomy. They operate entrepreneurially, taking a significant level of economic risk. The social dimension is described so that social enterprise has an explicit aim to benefit a community. The power for decisions is not based on capital ownership and instead the definition sees that social enterprises have a participatory nature. The definition also includes limited profit distribution. (Defourny & Nyssens 2010) EMES definition on social enterprises has included in the definition the governance dimension: social enterprises have participatory or democratic governance (European Commission 2019) The governance structure can also have significance in endeavoring the social mission (Defourny & Nyssens 2014: 21)
Pestoff & Hulgård (2016) state that the role of governance is a key issue in the European discussion of social enterprise. Governance issues have been more visible in European research tradition on social enterprises (Pestoff 2014). OECD (2004: 11) defines governance as relations between management, the board and other stakeholders. However, governance aspects and especially participatory governance aspects in social enterprises are not well explored on a practical level yet. The term governance is used in practice and in research in multiple ways.