The SEDETT project was funded by the ERASMUS+ programme in October 2016 to develop (i) a digitally enhanced blended learning set of social enterprise development, education and training tools (SEDETT) that enabled social enterprises to learn how to assess their capacity development needs – intellectual output 1 (IO1), (ii) educational and training materials for educators and trainers in HE/FE and VET to deliver formal and informal courses of education and training (IO2); and (iii) an e-tool that can be used by social entrepreneurs to identify creative education methodologies for use in their organisational development (IO3).
The project was innovative in the terms set out by the European Commission (https://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-10-473_fr.htm) in that in less well developed countries in Europe, such as Lithuania, Romania and Poland its outputs will help to speed up and improve the way social enterprises are conceived by developing a broader understanding of the purposes of social enterprise, in terms of their mission, ethics, governance, leadership and management structures. The need for such work to build capacity has been highlighted in the work of the OECD/EMES research network generally and in particular by Young and Lecy (2014) who indicated that in Europe there is not one single definition of social enterprise but rather a continuum that spans from pure profit seeking organisations to organisations focused to social impact. As a result they called for more evidence based research from case studies to be done that aids the definition of the boundaries between social enterprise with commercial and social missions in terms of their legal context, governance, leadership and management approaches, stakeholder involvement, risk and financial management strategies. In addition, Spear and Bidet’s (2005) wide ranging analysis of social enterprise across twelve European countries found that it was a rapidly emerging trend that was helping to address the social exclusion in labour markets. This work called for more research into the issues affecting the sustainability and growth of social enterprises and called in particular for empirical work to be done that identifies typologies or categories of social enterprise organisations and the development of models of good practice so as to enable the sector to thrive in all parts of Europe. The partner organisations in the project were drawn from the following countries namely,
United Kingdom, Poland, Romania, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, and Spain.
Qualitative data were obtained from 64 semi-structured interviews with leading actors (chief executives, finance directors, staff, governors, trustees, beneficiaries) situated in a total of 22 social enterprises operating across the above European countries so as to draw out features that would enable the intellectual outputs (IO1, IO2 and IO3) from the project to be achieved.
The next sub section sets out the SEDETT project case study organisations that have been drawn from the home locations of each of the project partners.