Playing with numbers: a methodological critique of the social enterprise growth myth

Teasdale, Simon, Lyon, Fergus ORCID logoORCID: and Owen, Robyn ORCID logoORCID: (2013) Playing with numbers: a methodological critique of the social enterprise growth myth. Journal of Social Entrepreneurship, 4 (2) . pp. 113-131. ISSN 1942-0676 [Article] (doi:10.1080/19420676.2012.762800)

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Evidence can be symbolically managed to legitimise policy actions and conceal ideology. Social enterprise is a contested concept which has become a site for policy intervention in many countries. In the UK the government has invested significant resources into social enterprise infrastructure, partly to increase the capacity of social enterprises to deliver public services. Government publications show the number of social enterprises to have increased from 5300 to 62000 over a five year period. This paper explores the myth of social enterprise growth in the UK through a methodological critique of the four government data sources used to construct and legitimise this myth. Particular attention is paid to how political decisions influence the construction of evidence. We find that growth is mainly attributable to a political decision to expand the concept and include new organisational types in sampling frames. We conclude that contested concepts provide particular scope for the politically motivated construction of evidence.

Item Type: Article
Keywords (uncontrolled): Critique, legitimacy, official statistics, social enterprise, social entrepreneurship
Research Areas: A. > Business School
Item ID: 10031
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Depositing User: Pamela Macaulay
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2013 13:16
Last Modified: 30 May 2019 18:27

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