Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Rural Europe: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Rural Europe

1st Edition

By Ralph Richter, Matthias Fink, Richard Lang, Daniela Maresch


222 pages | 11 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Hardback: 9780815379973
pub: 2019-07-03
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Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Rural Europe investigates how social entrepreneurship advances social innovation in rural Europe and contributes to fighting social and economic challenges in these regions.

Based on longitudinal data collected in four European countries, this book explains how social enterprises enact their business model based on an entrepreneurial reconfiguration of resources they obtain from their network relations, and how their activities empower local communities, driving change and eventually innovation. In these activities, the entrepreneurial mindset and the role as intermediary between different groups and domains of society help to reframe challenges into opportunities. The argument in this book develops from a description of what social enterprises report to do to an analysis of how they do it, and results in an explanation of why they take these actions. In doing so it gradually broadens the view from a focus on the social enterprises themselves to their interactions and network partners and, finally, to their positioning in societal fields. The presented model complements network theory with the concept of strategic action fields. This book reveals the crucial role of social entrepreneurship in innovation in rural regions, and the rich insights provided have far reaching implications for research, practice and policy.

This book will appeal to everyone interested in the interface of social entrepreneurship, innovation, and regional/rural development, either on a practical or academic level.


"This represents an insightful exploration of social entrepreneurship issues that operate within peripheral areas of Europe." Robert Newbery, Newcastle University Business School, UK

"A useful crosscutting case study analysis of social entrepreneurship in marginal rural European areas" — Javier Esparcia, University of Valencia, Spain

Table of Contents

1 Rural Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Practice: Case descriptions 2 How Rural Social Enterprises Innovate and Sustain: Potentials and Challenges from the Research Perspective 3 Rural Social Enterprise: An Emerging Strategic Action Field 4 Practitioner’s Voice: Reflections on the Relevance of the Identified Measures for Rural Social Entrepreneurship Practice 5 Key Takeaways: Implications for Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Rural Europe

About the Authors

Ralph Richter is a senior researcher and lecturer. At the Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (IRS) in Erkner/Germany he has conducted the EU funded research project "Social Innovation in Structurally Weak Rural Regions" (RurInno).

Matthias Fink is vice head of the Institute of Innovation at the Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria and a Professor for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at ARU Cambridge, UK. In addition, he is academic director of two MBA programs at LIMAK Austrian Business School.

Richard Lang is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Innovation Management at Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria, and a Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the School of Social Policy at University of Birmingham, UK.

Daniela Maresch is an Associate Professor at the University of Southern Denmark (DK) and an Associate Senior Researcher at the Institute of Innovation Management (IFI) at the Johannes Kepler University Linz (A).

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Social Enterprise & Social Innovation

Over the last decades, in parallel to major changes towards privatization in the welfare regimes of advanced industrialized countries, social innovation, social enterprise and social entrepreneurship have gradually become "à la mode". They are interpreted in policy documents in market-economic terms, making social enterprises a valuable partner for policy makers looking for innovative ways of addressing social and societal problems, among which bringing the excluded back into society and increasing social cohesion. However, balancing active citizenship and empowerment, on the one hand, and market-based social service delivery and innovation in a sustainable manner, on the other, represents a daunting challenge.

In this context, social innovation is conceived as creative solutions to existing wicked social problems, at the level of both concrete outcome and process; and social enterprises are heralded as vehicles for such societal improvement. However, beyond the superficial approaches to social innovation, its relationship with social enterprises and social entrepreneurship remains to be better understood and systematized. Therefore, the series invites contributions that are committed to understanding the complexity of these transformations by engaging in new dialogues within and among all regions of the world, each with its specific historical, cultural, social and political contexts, as well as among disciplines, as these evolutions must be tackled in their multi-dimensional nature.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Entrepreneurship
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Economic Development
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economics / Comparative