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Social Enterprise and Health

Special issue call for papers from Social Enterprise Journal

Special issue call for papers from Social Enterprise Journal

Guest Editors: Dr Michael Roy (; Dr Kelly Hall (

One of the largest areas of expenditure of modern states remains health and social care. However we are consistently seeing diminishing returns from investment in these areas: demographic changes and spiralling costs of new technologies have placed budgets under ever-increasing strain (Donaldson, 2012). Furthermore, the long-term deleterious impact of austerity policies on a variety of factors relating to health is only now starting to emerge (Reeves et al., 2013; Stuckler and Basu, 2013) and health inequalities remain stubbornly persistent.

Across successive governments, the UK’s Department of Health has promoted the role of social enterprise as an alternative provider of health and social care (Millar, 2012; Roy et al., 2013). Social enterprises are considered well-suited to address the kinds of tasks – particularly at a local level – that large-scale universal state (or private) provision is not. As well as a significant investment into developing the capacity and capability of the sector to take on such a role (Alcock et al., 2012; Hall et al., 2012a), there have been several attempts to encourage healthcare professionals to ‘spin out’ parts of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) into ‘social enterprises’ (Hall et al., 2015; Hazenberg and Hall, 2014) particularly via the Right to Provide and Right to Request programmes (Hall et al., 2012b; Miller et al., 2012). However, like many other areas of policy involving social enterprise, much of the policy rhetoric in this space seems to be based upon flimsy or even non-existent evidence. Debates as to whether social enterprises are intrinsically ‘better’ (howsoever defined) at delivering health and care services than the private or public sectors remain ongoing, and empirical work in this area is still in its infancy (Calò et al., 2017).

An altogether different stream of literature has also started to emerge recently which approaches the social enterprise/health debate from an alternative angle: considering the potential of social enterprises to address ‘upstream’ social determinants of health (Dahlgren and Whitehead, 1991; Whitehead and Popay, 2010) – the factors in the social environment that determine the conditions in which we are born, live, work and age – through addressing local social vulnerabilities. While this work has begun to identify plausible pathways from engagement with a social enterprise to health and well-being impacts (for example Macaulay et al., 2017; Roy et al., 2017, 2014), this research has barely begun to move beyond the ‘conceptualisation’ stage.

This special issue aims to contribute towards addressing these gaps in knowledge and theory concerning social enterprise and health and well-being. We invite empirical and conceptual papers addressing this broad subject area, such as on the following topics (which are not intended to be exhaustive):

  • If social enterprises are designed to maximise well-being, rather than maximisation of profits, what evidence do we have that social enterprise or other social innovations are intrinsically ‘better’ at maximising well-being than other forms of organisation?
  • While the role of social enterprises in addressing social vulnerabilities, particularly in communities, has started to be recognised, can they (and should they) be considered as a ‘provider’ of public health?  What would be the implications, whether to policy, communities, or indeed, on the communities they serve, of recognising them as such?
  • To what extent do social enterprises have well-being impacts on individuals and wider communities? (Farmer et al., 2016; Muñoz et al., 2015). What methodological challenges or opportunities do such lines of inquiry pose?
  • In the context of health and well-being, does scale of social enterprise matter? What do we mean by scale in this context? What implications does this have for community-based social enterprise, and for well-known tendencies such as ‘mission drift’ (Cornforth, 2014)?
  • A recurrent theme within SEJ considers social enterprises to be “politically, culturally, historically and geographically variable” (Teasdale, 2012, p. 100), so what does this level of idiosyncrasy mean in terms of their ability to address health and well-being concerns?
  • Is there a role for social enterprise and other social innovations in addressing some of longest and deepest entrenched health and social care problems in the global south?

The deadline for initial paper submissions is 15th December 2018. Submitted papers should follow SEJ submission guidelines ( and be written in good English to be fully considered. The submitted papers will go through the usual double-blind review process as per the guidelines of the Journal. Submissions to this special issue must be made through Social Enterprise Journal’s submission system ( When submitting your paper, please ensure that the correct Special Issue is selected from the dropdown menu on page 4 of the submission process.

Enquiries should be directed to the special issue editors: Dr Michael Roy and Dr Kelly Hall  



Alcock, P., Millar, R., Hall, K., Nicholls, A., Gabriel, M., 2012. Start-up and Growth: National Evaluation of the Social Enterprise Investment Fund (SEIF). Third Sector Research Centre and Health Services Management Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham.

Calò, F., Teasdale, S., Donaldson, C., Roy, M.J., Baglioni, S., 2017. Collaborator or Competitor: Assessing the Evidence Supporting the Role of Social Enterprise in Health and Social Care. Public Management Review.

Cornforth, C., 2014. Understanding and Combating Mission Drift in Social Enterprises. Social Enterprise Journal 10, 3–20.

Dahlgren, G., Whitehead, M., 1991. Policies and Strategies to Promote Social Equity in Health. Institute for Future Studies, Stockholm.

Donaldson, C., 2012. Credit Crunch Health Care: How Economics Can Save Our Publicly Funded Health Services. The Policy Press, Bristol.

Farmer, J., De Cotta, T., McKinnon, K., Barraket, J., Munoz, S.-A., Douglas, H., Roy, M.J., 2016. Social Enterprise and Wellbeing in Community Life. Social Enterprise Journal 12, 235–254.

Hall, K., Alcock, P., Millar, R., 2012a. Start Up and Sustainability: Marketisation and the Social Enterprise Investment Fund in England. Journal of Social Policy 41, 733–749.

Hall, K., Miller, R., Millar, R., 2015. Public, Private or Neither? Analysing the Publicness of Health Care Social Enterprises. Public Management Review 1–19.

Hall, K., Miller, R., Millar, R., 2012b. Jumped or Pushed: What Motivates NHS Staff to set up a Social Enterprise? Social Enterprise Journal 8, 49–62.

Hazenberg, R., Hall, K., 2014. Public Service Spin-Outs in the UK: Towards a Theoretical Understanding of the Spin-Out Process. Policy and Politics.

Macaulay, B., Roy, M.J., Donaldson, C., Teasdale, S., Kay, A., 2017. Conceptualizing the Health and Well-Being Impacts of Social Enterprise: A UK-Based Study. Health Promotion International.

Millar, R., 2012. Social Enterprise in Health Organisation and Management: Hybridity or Homogeneity. Journal of Health Organization and Management 26, 143–148.

Miller, R., Millar, R., Hall, K., 2012. New Development: Spin-Outs and Social Enterprise: The ‘Right to Request’ Programme for Health and Social Care Services. Public Money & Management 32, 233–236.

Muñoz, S.-A., Farmer, J., Winterton, R., Barraket, J., 2015. The Social Enterprise as a Space of Wellbeing: An Exploratory Case Study. Social Enterprise Journal 11, 281–302.

Reeves, A., Basu, S., McKee, M., Marmot, M., Stuckler, D., 2013. Austere or Not? UK Coalition Government Budgets and Health Inequalities. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 106, 432–436.

Roy, M.J., Baker, R., Kerr, S., 2017. Conceptualising the Public Health Role of Actors Operating Outside of Formal Health Systems: The Case of Social Enterprise. Social Science & Medicine 144–152.

Roy, M.J., Donaldson, C., Baker, R., Kay, A., 2013. Social Enterprise: New Pathways to Health and Well-being? Journal of Public Health Policy 34, 55–68.

Roy, M.J., Donaldson, C., Baker, R., Kerr, S., 2014. The Potential of Social Enterprise to Enhance Health and Well-Being: A Model and Systematic Review. Social Science & Medicine 123, 182–193.

Stuckler, D., Basu, S., 2013. The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills. Basic Books, New York.

Teasdale, S., 2012. What’s in a Name? Making Sense of Social Enterprise Discourses. Public Policy and Administration 27, 99–119.

Whitehead, M., Popay, J., 2010. Swimming Upstream? Taking Action on the Social Determinants of Health Inequalities. Social Science & Medicine 71, 1234–1236.