Social Enterprise, Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship in Sweden: A National Report

H. Thomas R. Persson, Niklas Hafen

    Publikation: Monografi/antologi/afhandling/rapportRapportForskning


    Introduction – A weakened welfare system in search for alternatives

    Sweden is commonly regarded as ‘one of the world’s most extensive and redistributive welfare states’ in many ways an archetypal welfare state based on a strong centralised State. However, over the last three decades Sweden has gradually been liberalised through the introduction of ele-ments of individual freedom of choice and decentralisation in welfare provision, a process initiated by a Centre-Right coalition during the end of the 1980s, continued by Social Democratic Govern-ments and most recently by the Centre-Right coalition.

    Whilst the unemployment rate was 7.4 %, or 388 500 people in August 2014 and has stayed on a level above 6 % over the last 12 years, and labour market policies cutting the benefits for the long-term unemployed as well as income taxes for the employed were introduced as a work incentive, a two tier system of insiders and outsiders has been cemented. Over the last decade, the long term unemployed and far removed from the labour market have increased, now making up approximately 70 % of the total number of unemployed people in Sweden. Those are alarming numbers for more than one reason. No doubt, this is a position that most people would dread finding themselves in, but also, from an economics point of view, it is ever harder to argue that these individuals are part of a national labour force reserve, i.e. the longer time spent being unemployed, independent of reason, the less attractive the individual becomes for the mainstream labour market in the best of times. This has resulted in suggestions of a need of a two-tier labour market.

    Like in many other countries, also in Sweden, entrepreneurship is generally recognized and emphasised as a means for economic growth and prosperity and a catchphrase for economic stimulus. Even though stimulation of entrepreneurship is an important policy in most countries, the posi-tive societal outcomes are normally seen as indirect (i.e. generating jobs and more tax-income for the government) rather than direct societal effects stemming from the specific activities. However, it is apparent that a diversity of entrepreneurship is required to overcome various societal, economic and environmental challenges facing societies. Many of the existing problems as well as societal solutions are legacies from the industrialisation, when boundaries between different sectors of society were of greater importance, than in today’s postindustrialised societies. Moreover, the challenges of today are far more complex to be solved singlehanded. Therefore, in Europe, entrepreneurship has increasingly come into focus as a potential stimulus for societal value creation as well. As a result a new strain of social entrepreneurs making use of mainstream entrepreneurial logic – discovery, evaluation and exploitation of opportunities to create future goods and services – when addressing societal problems, demonstrating that it works to be both commercially oriented as well as ideologically driven. Sweden is no exception to this trend. However, when the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso states that:

    “Social business can be indeed a very powerful agenda for change. To deliver better outcomes for the common good. To show that it is possible to do things more respon-sibly and more fairly, whilst still being a success on the market. And to become a real engine of growth in the EU. Europe must not only be part of these changes. Europe should be in the lead.”

    one cannot but wonder how far the national and regional governments and stakeholders have come in terms of developing eco-systems for social enterprises, to strengthen efforts at national and regional levels, and to make best use of the structural funds and other available sources of support, to paraphrase Commissioner László Andor, in charge of Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion.
    Antal sider58
    StatusUdgivet - nov. 2014

    Bibliografisk note

    EFESEIIS is a research project funded by EU FP7 that responds to the challenges identified in Europe 2020 Strategy for Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth and HORIZON 2020 in order to contribute to inclusive, innovative and secure societies

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