Evidence from The Netherlands
Leendert de Bell, Linda Drupsteen (2019)
The number of social enterprises in the Netherlands has increased rapidly. Social enterprises are looking for new, innovative and economically sustainable ways to tackle structural societal challenges that generally fall outside the direct focus and objectives of the public and private sector. Social enterprises are primarily mission-driven, where profit is not a goal in itself but a means of creating societal impact with regard to a specific social problem. Many social enterprises aim to increase their societal impact by growing their organization. However, despite their ambition, scaling up and expanding their impact remains challenging in practice. This research aimed to identify the main constraining factors in scaling up social enterprises and to develop effective methods to tackle these barriers in order to achieve more societal impact. The research was conducted among twenty social enterprises in the Netherlands, all of which aim to stimulate the labor market participation of people who are at a distance from the labor market, generally referred to as work-integration social enterprises. The results show that the majority of the participating social enterprises succeeded in achieving growth in the past two years with regard to specific indicators, but generally not in the way they had originally planned.