The Social Enterprise Company in Europe: Policy, Theory and Isomorphism

41 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2020 Last revised: 3 Mar 2020

See all articles by J S Liptrap

J S Liptrap

University of Cambridge, Faculty of Law

Date Written: January 6, 2020


The last decade or so has witnessed a proliferation in the introduction of corporate organisational constructs to facilitate social enterprise across many European jurisdictions. The purpose of this paper is to investigate this phenomenon, and provide an (initial) analytical framework through which the social enterprise company can be understood, both on its own terms and with respect to the traditional business organisation. The paper begins by laying out policymakers’ collective intentions for designing the social enterprise company. From this departure point, the discussion then turns to theorising the social enterprise company’s organisational architecture. The social enterprise company is a hybrid organisational construct, which combines specific legal mechanisms and institutional logics of public, private and social economy organisations together. The social enterprise company is designed to create social value. For this reason it operates according to the principle of publicness. The intention was also for the social enterprise company to be resource flexible and attract altruistic investors and managers. The paper then further extends the theoretical discussion by examining the social enterprise company’s isomorphic prevention mechanisms, which encourage impact fidelity in the context of a conversion or a winding up. The paper concludes with some criticisms and suggestions for improvement.

Keywords: Social Enterprise, Europe, Corporate Law, Comparative Law, Theory of the Firm, Legal Technology, Corporate Governance

JEL Classification: G30, G32, G34, G38, K20, K22, M13, M14

Suggested Citation

Liptrap, J S, The Social Enterprise Company in Europe: Policy, Theory and Isomorphism (January 6, 2020). University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 5/2020 (forthcoming in Journal of Corporate Law Studies) . Available at SSRN: or

J S Liptrap (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge, Faculty of Law ( email )

United Kingdom


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