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Overview of Social Economy in IT

Social Economy overview in Italy

Euricse’s framework of analysis is defined around the term “social enterprise”. By social enterprise (SE) we intend (EMES definition) “not-for-profit private organizations providing goods or services directly related to their explicit aim to benefit the community. They rely on a collective dynamic involving various types of stakeholders in their governing bodies, they place a high value on their autonomy and they bear economic risks linked to their activity.” (Defourny and Nyssens 2008: 5). SEs have the typical characteristics of an enterprise (e.g. production of goods and services; autonomy; economic risk, etc.), but they also present specific features related to the social dimension of their activity and specifically to:

  1. social goal pursued
  2. non-profit distribution constraint
  3. assignment of ownership rights and control power to stakeholders other than investors and adoption of a participatory governance model

This definition of social enterprise is the main pillar of our framework of analysis and it allows defining the capacity of organizations to balance their social aims with financing constraint and with their entrepreneurial nature.

Furthermore, this definition underlines two dimensions of organizational policies: the social or altruistic value and the efficiency dimension. Among the organizational values of a social enterprise, we find: solidarity, democracy, fairness. These values ensure that the social enterprise can better interrelate with other stakeholders and partners. Further these values give a competitive advantage to social enterprises in comparison with other organizations. Trust, reciprocity, higher resources supplied for free (voluntary work, donations) and higher intrinsic motivations (which ensure a mix of incentives for all stakeholders) enhance the efficiency dimension. (Depedri, 2010) Furthermore, when the organization recruits its workers and managers, the incentive structure supplied (i.e., the “job design” in the words of Ben-Ner) influences the process of selection of highly motivated workers (Handy and Katz, 1998). Therefore, a good match between organizational values and individual (i.e., managers’) values must be achieved.