ICSEM Project

ICSEM Project

Full title: International Comparative Social Enterprise Models
Acronym: ICSEM

The International Comparative Social Enterprise Models – ICSEM – Project is part of the IAP-SOCENT research program but it goes beyond it in terms of geographic coverage. Indeed, it aims at comparing social enterprise models and their respective institutionalisation processes across the world. Therefore it will rely on the participation of a large number of researchers from all regions who will contribute by providing country-specific or field-specific analysis of social enterprise models. Of course, contributions comparing social enterprise models in two or more countries will be welcome as well.


Scientific coordination: Jacques Defourny (CES – University of Liege) and Marthe Nyssens (CIRTES – Catholic University of Louvain)
Administrative coordination: Sophie Adam (CES – University of Liege)
Contact information: icsem-socent@emes.net

Project partners

As of March 2014, over 200 researchers from over 52 countries have expressed their interest in the ICSEM Project. Click here for a detailed list of the project participants.

Project events

  1. ICSEM kick-off meeting, July 5th, 2013
    This first plenary meeting of ICSEM took place the day before the 4th EMES International Research Conference held in Liege (Belgium) on Friday July 5th. It attracted about 100 researchers from 40 countries. After a plenary meeting, Jacques Defourny and Marthe Nyssens, ICSEM Project’s coordinators, held planned short meetings with individual researchers and small “national” team of researchers to discuss future research directions.
  2. Eastern ICSEM Symposium, Won Ju (South Korea), July 6th, 2014
    The “Eastern” ICSEM Symposium will gather partners from (or working on) Asia and the Pacific region to discuss all issues specific to the ICSEM Project.
  3. Western ICSEM Symposium, La-Roche-en-Ardenne (Belgium), October 9th-10th, 2014
    For all other partners, a “Western” ICSEM Symposium will be organized in Belgium in October 2014. Two full days will be devoted to the Symposium.

Project contents

The ICSEM Project relies on strong conceptual and theoretical backgrounds as well as on methodological tools which are described in a 20-page document available from the coordinators (address hereafter). Here is a brief outline of the two major parts of the ICSEM Project.

Part 1: Mapping social enterprise models

The first part seeks to provide detailed descriptions and to build typologies of social enterprise models as they have emerged and developed in several countries of Western and Eastern Europe, North America, Latin America, Africa as well as South and East Asia, Australia and New Zealand and also in different fields of activities. More precisely, the aim of this first part is threefold:

  1. To identify and characterize the various sets of social enterprises in each country: fields of activity, social mission, target groups, operational model, stakeholders, legal frameworks, etc.
  2. On the basis of such descriptions, to make additional or alternative groupings so as to build one or several typologies of major social enterprise models in the country and/or field(s) under research.
  3. To compare typologies of social enterprise models across countries and fields.

Part 2: Institutionalization processes of social enterprise models

The second part examines the processes through which these social enterprise models have been or are currently being institutionalized. The aim of this second part is threefold:

  1. To analyse the extent to which social enterprise models identified in Part 1 are currently institutionalized and the processes through which these institutional frameworks have emerged.
  2. To analyse how such institutional frameworks are currently shaping the behaviour of social enterprises.
  3. To locate the various social enterprise models in the whole economy as well as their trajectories.

How to participate in the ICSEM Project?

Participation of interested researchers from all countries is welcome and should be discussed case by case with the coordinators of the ICSEM project. As to means to sustain such a participation, the project will rely mainly on participants’ own resources and, if needed, on their own efforts to secure financial support, possibly with the coordinators’ support to submit applications to local, national or international funding institutions. As such, the ICSEM budget will only provide financial support, when necessary, to allow participants to take part in major meetings of the ICSEM Project. In addition, it will provide small allowances to some PhD students or post-doctoral reseachers willing to link their doctoral or post-doctoral work to the ICSEM Project and to make a contribution during or after their PhD research.

Becoming a partner researcher of the ICSEM Project does not necessarily mean covering all social enterprise models in a country. A partner may focus on one or several geographical parts of the country, on some specific fields of activity and only on one of the two major parts of the Project. In such cases, collaboration among partners of a same country or at least discussions to make contibutions as complementary as possible to each other will be encouraged.

Experienced or young researchers as well as PhD students who are interested in learning more about the ICSEM Project and possibly in taking part in it are invited to express their interest by writing to the project’s coordination email above.

Project website: http://www.iap-socent.be/icsem-project

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