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For a Better Tomorrow: Social Enterprises on the Move

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - FAB-MOVE (For a Better Tomorrow: Social Enterprises on the Move)

Reporting period: 2018-01-01 to 2018-12-31

"The project “For a Better Tomorrow: Social Enterprises on the Move” (FAB-MOVE) was funded by the EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE). It brought together researchers and practitioners in order to explore the question of how social enterprises, roughly defined as ""organisations seeking business solutions to social problems"" (Thompson / Doherty 2006) can grow and flourish. Our central aim was to identify crucial success factors for a sustainable development of these new and innovative organisations in an internationally comparative perspective. FAB-MOVE results aim to contribute to a thriving landscape of social enterprises and innovative societies in the EU and all other participating countries.
These objectives have been achieved through a carefully crafted network of 28 academic and non-academic partner organizations co-operating worldwide. At the heart of the project was the idea to promote international and inter-sector collaboration through research and innovation staff exchanges, and sharing of knowledge and ideas from research to market. International and intersectoral secondments (1-12 months) of staff members between our Partner organizations built the foundation for comparative research on social enterprises, their environments, innovations and challenges in different contexts.
With its international and intersectoral Consortium FAB-MOVE was able to significantly improve the transfer of knowledge between academics and nonacademics and thus increase the practical applicability of research findings. For an enduring sustainable impact, the central results of FAB-MOVE have been published in the form of a Teaching Tool to educate (future) managers of social enterprises on how to set up their enterprise in a specific environment, how to combine business with a social goal, and how to develop strategies for growth and scaling-up.
With the Teaching Tool, we hope to enhance the innovativeness, success and scalability of social enterprises across Europe and around the world. The teaching tool builds on the comprehensive understanding of the embeddedness of social enterprises and of factors for their success acquired throughout the project.
Researchers and practitioners jointly developed the Tool in the form of a website with three main sections:
1) Read & Learn; presenting revised and edited versions of all FAB-MOVE country reports, comparative reports, and case studies.
2) Questionnaire for future social entrepreneurs; a tool helping them to test and visualize their ideas (mission, business plan, team, social impact etc.).
3) FAB-MOVE insights for (future) social entrepreneurs: The FAB-MOVE Consortium presents itself with the help of single interview videos in which researchers and practitioners share their experiences.

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"FAB-MOVE Work Package I (Stocktaking of Knowledge about Social Enterprises) was concluded in May 2017 with the submission of 13 country reports and three comparative reports.
The country reports provide information about the history and development of social enterprises, their political and economic environment, and the discourse on social entrepreneurship in the respective countries. The comparative reports focus on ""the evolution, discourses and supporting structures of social enterprises"", ""social enterprises relation to other sectors in international perspective"", and ""social entrepreneurship in the emerging markets countries"".

Work Package II (Successful Social Enterprises) has been concluded with the submission of the FAB-MOVE case study reports of social enterprises in 12 countries and our WP leaders’ final recommendations for the project’s final outcome, the Teaching Tool.

Work Package III (Dissemination and Impact) centered on the conceptualization and set-up of the project's final outcome, the Teaching Tool. For an enduring sustainable impact, the central results of FAB-MOVE have been published on this interactive website to educate (future) managers of social enterprises.
Furthermore, throughout the project, on our FAB-MOVE website a weekly updated News section provided insights into secondments and dissemination activities, allowing seconded staff members to share their impressions with the broader public. During their secondments, staff members disseminated results and knowledge via workshops held at their receiving institutions; researchers held lectures about social enterprise research in their home countries, theoretical considerations and research questions. Practitioners run workshops for students and scholars in the receiving academic institutions, giving insights into their daily work, the evolution, and current challenges and plans of their social enterprise. Furthermore, FAB-MOVE researchers have presented our results at numerous national and international conferences (e.g. 12th International ISTR Conference 2016; ARNOVA Conference 2016, EMES Conference 2017, CIRIEC Conference 2017, 13th International ISTR Conference 2018). With its international and intersectoral secondments FAB-MOVE has also fostered the transfer of knowledge between academics and nonacademics and thus increased the practical applicability of our research findings.
Altogether we managed to implement 258 researcher-months which means an implementation rate of 97,5 % of all planned secondments.

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FAB-MOVE research results highlight not only the enormous differences between participating countries concerning the legal, cultural, and financial environments for social enterprises. Also, they refer to common similarities and parallel developments: This includes the persisting lack of a coherent definition of social enterprises, the in most countries messy legal framework and unreliable state support respectively discrepancies between the official discourse (promotion of social enterprises) and reality (deficient supporting structures). Social enterprises in different contexts take different stages and directions of development; while specific support is underdeveloped in highly structured, mid-European welfare contexts, social enterprises tend to flourish in less structured contexts where resources are available and entrepreneurial traits are valued – especially if the roles of state and market are shifting.
Apart from this academic perspective on new insights and how they help to overcome desiderata within the field of social enterprise research, FAB-MOVE has created excellent opportunities for international and inter-sectoral exchange, networking, and collaboration between participating institutions and individuals. Particularly early-stage researchers and practitioners benefited largely from the opportunity to gain first-hand experience, learn by seeing, listening, and comparing, they gained a fresh look at their own national context, experienced new career paths and empowerment through new friendships and joint activities. The size of our Consortium and, hence, possibility to spend some time in institutions in diverse countries and get to know a completely different working environment fostered inspiration and a dynamic exchange of ideas, new insights from comparative perspectives and helped establishing new ties between practitioners and academics. Established contacts between Partner institutions will outlast the project’s duration and further collaborations for joint proposals and publications are under way.