What We Need to Know About the Social Economy: A Guide for Policy Research

Policy Research Initiative

Year: 2005

This guide provides background on the social economy, identifies research issues whose examination would support the development of policies and programs, provides suggestions for how this research might be conducted, and points to some useful information sources.

Social economy enterprises (SEEs) are organizations democratically governed by their members or the stakeholders they serve that use a combination of market (sales revenue and paid labour) and non-market (government funding, private philanthropy, and volunteer labour) resources to produce and deliver goods and services in the marketplace based on a combination of the common interests of members and concern about the well-being of others. They are citizenled, community-based organizations that deliver goods and services locally, sometimes as part of a network of similar organizations, sometimes with the help of other organizations that provide financial, strategic, and technical support.

Governments should facilitate the formation of organizations that advance shared common interest and public service objectives. Whether governments should provide funding to any organization depends on its public interest objectives and its ability to advance those objectives efficiently and effectively. Before funding organizations, governments should examine supporting intended beneficiaries directly as an alternative or complement.

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