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What does research tell us? Find out at the Social Enterprise Academic Symposium in association with SEWF 2022

by SEWF Team / September 2022

Social entrepreneurs and social enterprises have increasingly attracted the attention of researchers who have questions such as – who starts social enterprises? How do social enterprises promote community wellbeing? How can they empower women? How do they scale and become sustainable?  

Researchers love asking these interesting questions so that everyone can benefit from the insights that we learn from conducting research. Zora Neale Hurston once said “Research is formalised curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.” Many researchers would agree that the more we can use research to learn about social enterprise, the greater chance we have of being able to promote more equitable social and economic development. 

SEWF started the Academic Symposium in 2018 to build a platform to bring researchers together to share their findings. The aim was to create a forum where people working in the sector could hear about research and new discoveries. It was also to ensure that good research informs what we share and teach about social enterprise. Professor Michael Roy says, “Our aim was to bridge the false silos that have been built up between research, teaching and engagement”. The first keynote in 2018 was Professor Diane Holt from the University of Essex who shared her stories about social enterprise research in sub-Saharan Africa. Without understanding context, we cannot hope to understand the forms and practices of social enterprise that exist elsewhere, which do not always map into boxes neatly. 

In September, Brisbane is holding an Academic Symposium in association with SEWF 2022 to continue the conversation about research and what it tells us about social enterprise. How can we learn more about the sector, its growth and its impact?  

Here is a line-up of topics to help us discuss the impact of research on the social enterprise sector: 

  • In the Wellbeing economies and the role of social enterprise stream, we will explore the role and value of social enterprise as a tool for addressing societal issues, especially in times of crisis and challenges such as racism, pandemics and recessions. Social entrepreneurs’ wellbeing will also be discussed, drawing on the learnings from interviewing 40 Malaysian social entrepreneurs who founded social enterprises, which will shed light on why social entrepreneurs may neglect recovery. 
  • As part of the Social innovation and enterprise: teaching and learning stream, how storytelling can be used as a strategic innovation tool and how the role of the Chief Story Officer might play a strategic role in early-stage social enterprise acceleration, creating pathways into employment and social innovation for creative arts students will be discussed. 
  • How unemployment of those with autism might be addressed through autistic owned and led social enterprise will be explored in the Complexity and systems change approaches to social enterprise stream. It will also be argued that cross-sector collaboration requires a level of systems leadership to look beyond organisational boundaries to develop the mindset and skills to foster connections and knowledge sharing across a messy and dynamic system.  
  • In the Knowledge, culture and sustainable practice: Indigenous social enterprise in a marketised world stream, Australian Traditional Owners, practitioners and researchers will be presenting together to share two case studies where Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation has supported strong local Aboriginal leaders to develop enterprises in Maningrida, Arnhem Land, the largest Aboriginal community of the Northern Territory. This model can be activated by any Indigenous community to enable community-owned commercial operations to be established with revenues and profits reinvested in the enterprise and for community benefit. 
  • Emerald Publishing, Partner of the Academic Symposium, will be sharing what publishers can do to build more reciprocity and trust with Indigenous social enterprises, and ensure that academic research can continue to contribute to wider communities in a meaningful and sustainable way. 

This is just a snapshot of the topics that will be shared at this year’s Academic Symposium! 

“As a global publisher, Emerald Publishing is passionate about leading change, and in doing so we want to publish research that influences thinking, changes policies, and makes a positive difference to lives beyond the walls of academia. Partnering with the Social Enterprise Academic Symposium is just one of the many ways we hope to support the advancement of research and education.” 

Are you curious or have questions about the theory and practice of social enterprise? Register to attend the symposium and join others who want to know “What does the research tell us?”  

SEWF22 (28-29 September) is a hybrid event with options for participation in person in Brisbane and online.  

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