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Durham University

Policy, Professions and Communities Research Group


Publication details for Professor Tony Chapman

Chapman, Tony Crow, Robert & Brown, Judith (2007). 'They think they have God on their side': the impact of public sector attitudes on the development of social enterprise'. Social Enterprise Journal 3(1): 78-89.

Author(s) from Durham


To study the reasons why UK social enterprises are not yet fulfilling their potential due to the lack of support and trust on the part of key decision makers.

The study was based in Tees Valley, the southernmost sub‐region in northeast England, which has suffered from a decline in its traditional industries over the past 30 years. Reports the results of in‐depth qualitative interviews with 18 local authority economic regeneration officers and leading local strategic partnership managers across the five borough councils as key stakeholders across Tees Valley to explore potential barriers to the development of the social enterprises sector in this sub‐region. Explains that each interview focused on: perceived differences in the culture of the social enterprise sector compared with private business and the public sector; representation of the sector in key decision making in the sub‐region; the potential for developing entrepreneurship and foresight in the sector; and opinions on the level of support required for capacity building.

The results indicated that key stakeholders in the public sector assume that there is a value continuum between the voluntary and community sector, through the social enterprise sector, to the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector, while the assumption is also that the closer an organization is to the voluntary and community sector, the more likely that it will be driven by its social values. Supports the view that social enterprises are both “value led” and “market driven”.

Draws on previously unpublished data from a research project that aimed to assess the size, shape and scope of the social enterprise sector for Tees Valley Partnership.