Social Enterprise Models in Austria

  • Project

    Problem Background and Relevance

    Social enterprises have received increasing attention by practitioners, academics and governments and are discussed as a promising tool to deal with current economic, social and environmental challenges, such as the transformation of social security systems, the need for ethics and transparency in the economic system, the aspiration for sense and motivation at the workplace or the delivery of affordable, good quality housing. Social enterprises can broadly be defined as organizations which combine an entrepreneurial approach to provide services or goods with a primacy of social aims.
    Nevertheless, an overall understanding of social enterprise models emerging in different countries and across the world is still lacking. Although research on social enterprises has started rather recently, the absence of an overall view can be explained by the insight that the concepts of social enterprise and social entrepreneurship can have very different meanings in different contexts or for different disciplinary schools. Furthermore, much of the existing literature has so far relied on case studies in order to highlight achievements of outstanding social entrepreneurs.


    This main objective of the project is to explore the historical, contextual and conceptual issues about the emergence of the social enterprise phenomenon in Austria. Furthermore, the project aims at identifying and characterizing various fields of social enterprise activity in Austria by their social mission, target groups, public or private supports, operational and governance models, stakeholders, etc.

    Methodological Steps

    • Literature analyses on terms, notions, traditions and concepts of social enterprises in the Austrian context
    • Expert interviews with academics, policy makers, civil society organizations for in-depth analyses

    Institutional Setup

    The project is part of a broader study on “International Comparative Social Enterprise Models (ICSEM)” in partnership with the EMES European Research Network. It aims at comparing social enterprise models and their respective institutionalisation processes across the world. Thus, it relies on the participation of a large number of researchers from all regions who contribute country-specific or field-specific analysis of social enterprise models. Currently, over 200 researchers from some 50 countries are involved. The ICSEM Project is jointly coordinated by Jacques Defourny (University of Liege) and Marthe Nyssens (Catholic University of Louvain).



    Conference Contributions and Invited Talks

    • Göler von Ravensburg, N., Lang, R., Poledrini, S., Starnawska, M. (2017) Cooperative Social Enterprises in western industrialized countries, 6th EMES International Research Conference on Social Enterprise, Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium, 03.-06.07.2017
    • Anastasiadis, M. and Lang, R. (2016) Social Enterprise Models in Austria: A contextual approach to understand an ambiguous concept, 12th International Conference of the International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR), Stockholm, Sweden, 28.06.-01.07.2016
    • Lang, R. and Anastasiadis, M. (2014) Understanding Concepts and Contexts of Social Enterprise Models in Austria, Western ICSEM Symposium, La Roche-en-Ardenne, Belgium, 08.-10.10.2014
  • People

    • Richard Lang

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