Understanding social enterprise: a case study of the childcare sector in Scotland

Paul Hare, Declan Jones, Gemma Blackledge-Foughali

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Purpose – To investigate the application of the social enterprise model to the childcare sector in Scotland and develop a practical model for analysing such social enterprises.

    Design/methodology/approach – A review of the literature of ideas on social enterprise found in official and academic literature is presented. The concept of “social enterprise” is reviewed with particular reference to features of the childcare sector that relate both generally and specifically to Scotland. Reports the results of a questionnaire survey, conducted in late 2005 and early 2006, involving 81 childcare organizations (27.0 per cent response rate).

    Findings – The results indicated that about two-thirds of the organizations operated at just one site, with playgroups tending to be local groups operating in relatively small geographical areas. Reveals that the issue of whether childcare should be free caused mixed but fairly evenly distributed responses, from strong agreement to strong disagreement, but the issue of external sources of funding and the problems involved caused the majority of respondents to agree that childcare services are unsustainable without external funding, a finding that shows that sustainability is not the same as self-sufficiency. Concludes that childcare sector issues and social economy issues are the most significant.

    Originality/value – Contributes to the social enterprises literature where there is a dearth of knowledge about the birth and death rates for social enterprises and where improved statistics would help in supporting sector-related policies more effectively and understanding better the sector’s function and behaviour. Provides information that could be helpful for banks and other financial institutions that might be in a position to offer credit to these social enterprises.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)113-125
    JournalSocial Enterprise Journal
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


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