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Whose failure? Learning from the financial collapse of a social enterprise in ‘Steeltown’

Scott, Duncan and Teasdale, Simon (2012) Whose failure? Learning from the financial collapse of a social enterprise in ‘Steeltown’. Voluntary Sector Review, 3 (2). pp. 139-155. ISSN 2040-8056

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URL of Published Version: http://www.policypress.co.uk/journals_vsr.asp?

Identification Number/DOI: 10.1332/204080512X649333

The social enterprise literature is dominated by stories of good practice and heroic achievement. Failure has not been widely researched. The limited policy and practice literature presents failure as the flipside of good practice. Explanations for failure are almost wholly individualistic, and related to poor governance. However, organisational studies literature shows that failure cannot be understood without reference to the wider environment within which organisations operate. This paper is based on a nine year in depth case-study of an organisation previously characterised in the policy and practitioner literature as an example of good practice and heroic achievement. We seek to explain its ‘failure’ through studying the interaction between the organisation and its wider environment. We show that simple individualistic explanations are not sufficient by which to understand social enterprise failure and outline the implications for academic understanding of social enterprise.

Type of Work:Article
Date:July 2012 (Publication)
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
Department:Third Sector Research Centre

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Keywords:failure; social enterprise; third sector
Subjects:H Social Sciences (General)
HC Economic History and Conditions
HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
JS Local government Municipal government
Institution:University of Birmingham
Copyright Holders:The authors, TSRC, Policy Press
ID Code:1402
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