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Dr Silvia Sacchetti

Profile summary

  • Central Academic Staff
  • Senior Lecturer in Management
  • The Faculty of Business and Law
  • The Open University Business School
  • Department for Public Leadership and Social Enterprise
  • silvia.sacchetti

Professional biography

Before arriving at the OU, I have been conducting academic activity elsewhere, at University of Birmingham (Business School), Trento (Faculty of Economics and Euricse, Italy) and at the University of Stirling (Management School). At Birmingham I joined the Institute for Industrial Development Policy. The Institute provided a focal point for the teaching and study of the nature of business enterprises, networks, industrial districts and local economic development. Particular attention was given to the implications of exclusive governance structures with respect to uneven development, knowledge creation, creativity and critical thinking. At Stirling issues of socio-economic development have been taught and researched by sharpening the focus on the conditions facilitating the development of creative contexts or spaces and their import for the evolution of needs, associated values and ends.

At the very start of my academic career I was at the University of Bologna in Forli (Faculty of Political Science) and then at the University of Ferrara (Faculty of Economics). My work has contributed to the growth of a teaching and research stream on innovation, production knowledge and local economic development. As a junior researcher first I conducted applied research at Antares (Research Centre on Territorial Development at the University of Bologna-Forli’), at the Department of Commerce at the Emilia-Romagna Region, and Ervet Emilia Romagna (local development agency), where research outcomes have informed a number of industrial policy documents and reports.

Research interests

My research is concerned with the development of inclusive economies and localities with the aim of increasing people well-being. To this end I address the values and consequences of decision making in private organisations as well as in local development policy. My aim is to build a body of literature that contributes to explain the impact that taking a cooperative and inclusive approach to business and policy choices can have in terms of development model.

Recently I have focused on three areas: the third sector (including cooperative firms and social enterprises) social capital and local economic development. One of my current projects studies the involvement of users in the governance of social enterprises that provide health and other welfare services, its outcomes and impacts. Another one focuses on how social enterprises contribute to the regeneration of physical spaces where communities can cooperate and develop new opportunities.

Specific research lines have addressed:

Research line 1: The implications of different governance forms and policy choices for socio-economic development, focusing on:

  • The governance and networking of cooperatives and social enterprises
  • The features of multi-stakeholder governance of social enterprises, their implications for externalities  and their impacts over the public interest
  • Inclusive and exclusive preferences underpinning different business models and their impacts over the public interest
  • Inclusive and exclusive preferences underpinning different spatial policies and their impacts over the public interest
  • Social capital, and particularly cooperation leading to the rise of networks of social enterprises in Scotland for the promotion of public interest

Research line 2: Creativity and (organizational) context: implications for individual satisfaction and motivations, focusing on the analysis of worker microdata concerning individual wellbeing and organizational processes in the organizations of the social economy. Specifically I focus on:

  • The relation between organisational dimensions (such as membership, perceived fairness and autonomy; involvement, teamwork, training and learning), individual motivations and aspects of individual satisfaction
  • The resilience of individual motivations within complex systems (i.e. universities; social enterprise)

Recent collaborations involve working with small Councils in Italy on a development model for cities that reflects the values of inclusion and cooperation. Business organisations that have supported my research and discussed results are mostly cooperatives, employee owned firms, social enterprises and their associations.

Teaching interests

My teaching is strongly research based, and lectures and seminars, as a norm, bridges theoretical and applied aspects of firm governance and local economic development. In my current teaching, issues of community development and use of creativity are related to the study of unconventional forms of enterprises such as cooperatives and social enterprises and entrepreneurs. In the past I have taught on themes related to innovation and the knowledge economy, industrial organisation, uneven development and transnational corporations. The subject areas underpinning these topics are the theory of the firm (transnational corporations, SMEs, cooperatives, social enterprises), industrial organisation, socio-economic development, theory of knowledge and creativity, individual motivation and satisfaction. The approach is mainly provided by institutionalism and industrial organisation.

Impact and engagement

Local development practice:

Over the last months collaborations involved working with a small Council (Italy) on a development model for cities with the aim of increasing community prosperity. The development model and related policies focus on the creation of public spaces, inclusion and cooperation. In the same city, since Autumn 2013 I have been involved in the setting of a public Forum aimed at considering the requalification of privately-owned, abandoned buildings that occupy a central position inside towns and that could represent an important long-term development opportunity for communities.  The Forum includes a variety of stakeholders and will soon issue policy recommendations for the Council which has already acted on some of the Forum’s inputs. A working paper in Italian presents some initial results from this local development practice to maximize impact and knowledge transfer with local policy makers and stakeholders.

External examining:

I am currently external examiner at the University of Greenwich for courses in Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility; Global Enterprise and Innovation within the MA and MBA International Business.

I am external examiner at the University of Trento for the Ph.D Programme in Local Development and Global Dynamics.

Recent conferences organised:

International Research Workshop on Cooperative and Social Enterprises in the Midst of the Economic Crisis. School of Applied Social Sciences, University of Stirling, June 2012. The Workshop has been organized as part of the PATT Outgoing of a colleague from the University of Trento and hosted at the University of Stirling.

The Stirling Workshop on Social Enterprise and the Third Sector, “The meaning of ‘social’ in social enterprise”, University of Stirling, Enterprise Zone, October 2010

Second Biannual Festival on Creativity and Economic Development on "Recapturing Space and Time. The Role of Creativity in Local Economic Development" April 2009 (Gambettola, Italy). An initiative supported by a partnership that includes the Institute for Economic Development Policy (University of Birmingham, UK),Stirling Management School (University of Stirling, UK), Antares (Faculty of Political Science, University of Bologna-Forli', Italy), Faculty of Architecture "A. Rossi" (University of Bologna-Cesena, Italy) and the institutional backing of Comune di Gambettola, Province of Forli-Cesena, Regione Emilia-Romagna.

External collaborations

My external academic activities include research development at Euricse (European Research Institute on Cooperatives and Social Enterprises, Trento, Italy) where collaborations have focused on the governance, outcomes and impacts of cooperatives and social enterprises.

In terms of community engagement I contribute as an elected member to the administration of a small Italian town in the Emilia-Romagna Region.

Links with academic colleagues include Euricse (European Centre for Cooperatives and Social Enterprise, Trento, Italy), University of British Columbia (Canada), Athens University of Economics and Business (Greece), University of Deusto and Bask Institute for Competitiveness (Orkestra, Spain); as well as from practitioners in the private sector (Assist Social Capital, Creative Stirling in Scotland) and in the public sector (local government administrations in Italy).


The extended governance of cooperative firms: inter-firm coordination and consistence of values (2016-03)
Sacchetti, Silvia and Tortia, Ermanno
Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, 87(1) (pp. 93-116)
Inclusive and exclusive social preferences: a Deweyan framework to explain governance heterogeneity (2015-02)
Sacchetti, Silvia
Journal of Business Ethics, 126(3) (pp. 473-485)
Network di imprese sociali e capital sociale. L’ecosistema scozzese (2014-11)
Sacchetti, Silvia and Campbell, Colin
Impresa Sociale, 11(4)
Multi-stakeholder Governance. A social enterprise case study (2014-08)
Sacchetti, Silvia and Tortia, Ermanno
International Journal of Co-operative Management, 7(1) (pp. 58-72)
Satisfaction with creativity: a study of organizational characteristics and individual motivation (2013-12)
Sacchetti, Silvia and Tortia, Ermanno C.
Journal of Happiness Studies, 14(6) (pp. 1789-1811)
Economic governance and the evolution of industrial districts under globalization: the case of two mature European industrial districts (2009-12-28)
Sacchetti, Silvia and Tomlinson, Philip R.
European Planning Studies, 17(12) (pp. 1837-1859)
The organization of production and its publics: mental proximity, market and hierarchies (2009-09-29)
Sacchetti, Silvia and Sugden, Roger
Review of Social Economy, 67(3) (pp. 289-311)
Dall'organizzazione multi-stakeholder all'impresa reticolare [From the multi-stakeholder organisation to the network enterprise] (2008-10)
Sacchetti, Silvia and Tortia, Ermanno
Impresa Sociale, 77(4) (pp. 104-124)
Linking learning with governance in networks and clusters: key issues for analysis and policy (2008-08-08)
Parrilli, Mario Davide and Sacchetti, Silvia
Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 20(4) (pp. 387-408)
Knowledge caps in industrial development (2004-09)
Sacchetti, Silvia
New Political Economy, 9(3) (pp. 389-412)
The governance of networks and economic power: the nature and impact of subcontracting relationships (2003-12)
Sacchetti, Silvia and Sugden, Roger
Journal of Economic Surveys, 17(5) (pp. 669-692)
The social value of multi-stakeholder co-operatives: the case of the CEFF system in Italy (2014-02-28)
Sacchetti, Silvia and Tortia, Ermanno C.
In: Mazzarol, Tim; Reboud, Sophie; Liminios, Elena Mamouni and Clark, Delwyn eds. Research Handbook on Sustainable Co-operative Enterprise: Case Studies of Organisational Resilience in the Co-operative Business Model (pp. 285-300)
ISBN : 978-0-85793-777-3 | Publisher : Elgar | Published : Cheltenham
Inclusive governance in non-profit organisations (2015-09)
Borzaga, Carlo and Sacchetti, Silvia
In : Societa' Italiana degli Economisti (SIE) (22-24 September 2015, Naples, Italy)
Creating space for communities: social enterprise and the bright side of social capital (2014-09)
Sacchetti, Silvia and Campbell, Colin
In : IIPPE’s Fifth International Conference in Political Economy (16-18 September 2014, Naples, Italy)
The extended governance of cooperative firms: inter-firm coordination and consistency of values. (2014-05-21)
Sacchetti, Silvia and Tortia, Ermanno
In : VIII Colloquio Scientifico sull'impresa sociale (23-24 May 2014, Perugia, Italy)
Governance for a “socialised economy”. A case study in preventive health and work integration (2016-12)
Sacchetti, Silvia
Euricse, Trento, Italy.
A needs theory of governance (2016-07)
Sacchetti, Silvia and Tortia, Ermanno
Aiccon, Alma Mater Studiorum, Bologna University (Italy)
Human resource management practices and organizational performance. The mediator role of immaterial satisfaction in Italian Social Cooperatives (2016-01)
Sacchetti, Silvia; Tortia, Ermanno C. and Lopez Arceiz, Francisco J.
Facultad de Economía y Empresa, Universidad de Zaragoza
Why Social Enterprises Are Asking to Be Multi-stakeholder and Deliberative: An Explanation around the Costs of Exclusion. (2015-04)
Sacchetti, Silvia and Borzaga, Carlo
Euricse (European Research Institute on Cooperatives and Social Enteprises)