Governments can do a lot more to unlock the social economy, write Johanna Mair and co-authors

Authors present policy recommendations in article and report for the World Economic Forum annual meeting.

To foster the growing social economy, policymakers should develop the regulatory environment for social enterprises, create incentives for investment, expand education and research, make public and private procurement channels more inclusive and make social impact data available, writes Hertie School Professor of Organization, Strategy and Leadership Johanna Mair and co-authors in an insight brief and accompanying article for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. The meeting runs from May 22-26, 2022.

The Insight Brief, Unlocking the Social Economy, was authored by Mair, along with Jonathan Wong, Chief of Technology and Innovation, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP); Precious Moloi-Motsepe, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Motsepe Foundation; and François Bonnici, Director, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship; Head, Social Innovation, World Economic Forum. It outlines areas that governments can develop to build more inclusive, sustainable and resilient societies.

The authors also contributed to a broader WEF report that brings together insights from a wide array of stakeholders who care about and push for social innovation.  These include civil society and government organisations, academic researchers and other institutions. A Working Group on the subject contributed to the report. The group was convened by the World Economic Forum’s Global Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship and the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, in partnership with Deloitte, Euclid Network, Catalyst 2030 and the Motsepe Foundation.

An accompanying op-ed for the WEF website acts as a policy brief and a call to action, says Johanna Mair. With The 2.8 million social economy organisations employing 13.6 million people, the social economy of the European Union supports disadvantaged groups, drives sustainable development and offers an alternative to the traditional economic model, the authors write.

“Over decades, social enterprises, cooperatives, inclusive businesses, and innovative non-profits have prioritised social and environmental value. They made a difference where it matters: on the ground, among local communities and natural ecosystems facing damage and loss,” they say.

Nevertheless, these pillars of the social economy face hurdles that keep them from growing: “limited visibility; lack of a supportive legal and regulatory frameworks; lack of verification and standards; inadequate supply of financial resources and restricted access to markets,” the authors write.

Read the full op-ed here.

Read the WEF report here.


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More about our expert

  • Johanna Mair, Professor of Organization, Strategy and Leadership