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Approaches to measuring the scale of the social enterprise sector in the UK

Lyon, Fergus and Teasdale, Simon and Baldock, Rob (2010) Approaches to measuring the scale of the social enterprise sector in the UK. Working Paper. University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.


URL of Published Version: http://www.tsrc.ac.uk/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=Rcd7%2f7PK0CE%3d&tabid=500


With growing interest in social enterprise in the UK, evidence on the scale of their activity is required to show their contribution to the economy. The figure of 62,000 social enterprises has been regularly based on a minimum three year rolling average of the Annual Small Business Survey between 2005 and 2007. In this paper we show that different surveys have been based upon samples drawn from widely disparate populations. The Annual Small Business Survey is shown to be dominated by private enterprises (Companies Limited by Share, Partnerships and Sole Proprietors) while other surveys such as the National Survey of Third Sector Organisations, have only looked at particular elements of civil society. By understanding the origins of each source of data, a better evidence base can be developed that draws on the different data sources. While there is still on-going debate about the definitions of social enterprise, careful presentation of data sources can allow those using the data to be clearer about what they are including or excluding. We show how different definitions of social enterprise result in widely differing estimations of the population. Estimations of social enterprise activity may be more reliable as the definitions are more consistently applied. This working paper aims to present data and seeks feedback from the social enterprise community and researchers as part of improving the evidence base.

Type of Work:Monograph (Working Paper)
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
Number of Pages:25
Department:Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC)

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Date:September 2010
Series/Collection Name:TSRC Working Paper Series
Keywords:Social Enterprise, scale; survey, definition, UK
Subjects:H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Related URLs:
Funders:Economic and Social Science Research Council, Office for Civil Society, Barrow Cadbury Trust
ID Code:783

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