Sweden constitutes a very interesting context for the analysis of social entrepreneurial phenomena. The country welfare model and the special interactions between state and civil society may represent a high standard of supporting ecosystem for social enterprises, which are described in their main features by the Report.
Today the official Swedish social enterprises are approximately three hundred and do have a range of different legal forms, as joint-stock companies (Aktiebolag), cooperative economic associations (Ekonomiska föreningar), trading companies (Handelsbolag), not-for-profit associations (Ideella föreningar) and foundations (Stiftelser). They mostly operate within the service sector, having the main aim to integrate marginalized people:
“Social enterprises with the aim to integrate marginalised people on the labour market are defined as work-integration social enterprises (arbetsintegrerande sociala företag), especially by national bodies such as the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth (Tillväxtverket), the Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications (Näringsdepartementet) and the Swedish Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen). Current definition has in many ways become synonymous with social enterprises”
Although not everyone agrees with this definition, thus promoting a much broader meaning, the work-integration social enterprises still gain a relevant influence:
“A good example is the action plan N2010/1894/ENT launched by the Swedish government in 2010. The plan emphasise the importance of work-integration social enterprises as a means to reduce social exclusion. Furthermore it highlights the importance of collaboration between the public, private and the non-profit sector to address this matter. In this regard an increased collaboration between municipalities and county councils has been recommended”.
The report, analysing the constraints and the obstacles that these new kind of enterprises are facing, provides a relevant synthesis of literature, policy documents, academic and ‘grey’ literature on social entrepreneurship, innovations and enterprises. Furthermore, the literature review has been integrated by gathering significant information from 21 interviews with representatives from stakeholder institutions, organisations, academia and the sector.
Social Enterprise, Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship in Sweden: A National Report
H. Thomas R. Persson & Niklas Hafen
University of Southern, Denmark