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Michiel Verver receives NWO grant for research on social entrepreneurship

9 August 2023
Organisational scientist Michiel Verver receives a grant from NWO's Open Competition SSH-XS programme. With this, he will research the extent to which social enterprises can bring about economic transformation.

Social enterprises seek to address societal problems through entrepreneurship. In this way, they compensate for the failures of corporations and governments, but increasingly they are also expected to transform the sectors in which they operate.

Verver: "The ability to transform a sector is currently only assumed, but barely researched." With this research, Verver aims to change that. The aim of the research is to develop an approach where social entrepreneurs are not seen as the medicine that can solve all problems, but as potential harbingers of change.

Here, he uses Karl Polanyi's economic anthropology and his idea of the "substantive economy". In this, commercial and welfare functions coexist, and the ability to transform arises in the interaction between different stakeholders, including social entrepreneurs but also large corporations and governments.

This approach is applied to three diverse cases of social enterprises and their stakeholders in Amsterdam. The three social enterprises are respectively engaged in promoting labour participation of people from refugee backgrounds, tackling food waste by making products from unused food, and providing relief for informal carers in care hotels.

Verver: "I am very happy with this grant as it allows me to examine the role of social enterprises in our changing economy and to research that role from different perspectives and within different organisations."

With the NWO Open Competition-SSH, NWO Social Sciences and Humanities wants to offer researchers the opportunity to carry out research into a subject of their own choosing without any thematic constraints.