The Social and Sustainable Enterprise (SSE) research cluster addresses the connections between entrepreneurial activity, innovation and the transition towards more environmentally and socially sustainable ways of doing business.
The cluster comprises two closely-connected strands (Social Enterprise and Sustainable Enterprise), which build on a tradition of research, teaching and engagement activities in the Business and Law Schools that dates back more than 25 years. This includes pioneering work on cooperatives, performance measurement for social enterprises, values-based approaches to management, corporate social responsibility, craft-based ventures, and family businesses.
We have incorporated SSE research insights, including our own case-based material, into Open University teaching materials, including B205 Exploring Innovation and Entrepreneurship, B327 Creating Futures: Sustainable Enterprise and Innovation and the new MBA elective module BB851 Entrepreneurship in Context, and have promoted doctoral research in this area, through several recent studentships.
Our enterprise-related research is also featured in open educational resources, such as the OU Sustainability Hub on the OpenLearn platform, the Entrepreneurship Accelerator in OpenLearn Create and has informed BBC/OU co-productions such as Hidden Histories: Britain’s Oldest Family Businesses (BBC Four) and The Bottom Line (BBC Radio 4 / BBC World Service).
Our students live in a world that is confronted by many environmental and societal challenges, the greatest of which is climate change – now increasingly declared as a ‘climate emergency’. Both the issues and the solutions are typically complex, entrenched and often politically charged. Public, private and voluntary sector organisations often play a key role as ‘middle actors’ in these transition processes. We seek to inform policy and practice in this this area and to help organisations transform their strategies and working practices.
Research in the SSE cluster is oriented around our existing research specialisms, which include:
However, we will continue to incorporate new or modified themes, which may emerge from discussions in the cluster. Given our multidisciplinary approaches, and the multi-level nature of the issues we address, we welcome new collaborations with other research groupings.