Members of the CSSE are engaged in a variety of research, scholarship and engagement projects related to different aspects of social and sustainable enterprise. This page provides an overview and you can find further details on each project by following the links:

A European Network of Research Infrastructures for CO2 Transport and Injection (ENCASE)

CSSE members have been successful in being award a new Horizon Europe funded project on the development of a European Network of Research Infrastructure for CO2 Transport and Injection. Francesca Calo and Aqueel Wahga will be working with Business School colleagues Ali Atuallah, Edoardo Ongaro and Alessandro Sancino.  The project started in January 2023 and it will last for the next 3 years and half. The Open University team will be involved in developing and evaluating social innovation labs, processes and initiatives to integrate the research infrastructure in the local communities. Social innovation labs will be  a space that favours the development of co-creation initiatives, involving different stakeholders. The co-creation processes and resulting projects will focus upon environmental sustainability and the integration of the research infrastructures in their local contexts. 

Place-based support for rural craft entrepreneuring – how does context matter?

This ISBE Research and Knowledge Exchange (RAKE) project uses a practice theory lens to investigate how business support is provided to creative firms in rural areas, with focus on craft businesses. It asks how context matters for place-based business support of rural craft entrepreneuring. Drawing on comparative case studies in two rural locations in England and Scotland, in dispersed/remote rural and village/hamlet locations, the project develops a framework for discovering how business support unfolds, focusing on micro-exchange processes in business advice situations.

Rural creative enterprise - clustering and creative hubs contribution to local socio-economic development

This research found that creative enterprises tend to concentrate and group around existing cultural offers, yet the distribution of creative industries in rural areas in England is less known. Cultural offers include museums and cultural heritage sites and areas of nature tourism. The research project makes visible how and why rural creative industries cluster and constitute an untapped potential for sustainable rural development for people living well in their places.

Sustaining craft enterprise in food production: A study of bakery businesses

The research, conducted by Emma Bell, Professor of Organisation and Leadership at the Open University Business School, found that the rising costs of flour and energy pose some serious challenges to bakery owners, and that support is needed for this sector to maintain its important place in local communities. The project report, which was created with support from The Real Bread Campaign and the Craft Bakers Association, shows that small bakery businesses have contributed significantly to British food cultures and local communities, and their growth builds upon a long history of craft baking in the UK.

Download the report

SME Governance for Net Zero (GOZERO)

This UKERC-funded research project aims to provide a robust evidence base to support the multi-level governance of SME decarbonisation across the four UK nations. It will examine current policies, consult SME owners, managers, and policy makers, and seek to identify the key changes needed to facilitate the large-scale decarbonisation of the UK’s SME population over the coming decade.

Accelerating Entrepreneurship Support in Universities in Kenya (AESU)

This British Council funded project was led by Ashoka East Africa, with blended (online) working expertise provided by the OU team.  By establishing and operating a virtual accelerator, the partnership will renew and adapt the curriculum with a view to producing enterprising graduates who are capable of securing employment and/or commercialising locally developed innovations that harness digital technology and contribute to addressing the climate emergency in Kenya. 

Growing Greener: Creating a New Values-based Environmental Engagement Toolkit for SME Intermediaries

This ESRC Impact Acceleration Account project involved a multi-disciplinary team from The Open University, The Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford and communication specialists, Climate Outreach. They collaborated with small business owners, managers and advisors to create a short course, Promoting Sustainability in Business: A Values-Based Toolkit’, designed to facilitate more effective forms of engagement with climate change and other important environmental issues.​


Women as Vectors of Social Entrepreneurship in Hospitality and Tourism

This British Academy / Leverhulme Trust funded project involved researchers from The Open University and University of Surrey, who examined eco-tourism ventures in Cameroon, focusing on how women owner-managers of micro- and small-tourism firms (STFs) use them as platforms for engaging in various forms of social entrepreneurship leading to societal transformation, economic and community development.

A realist-informed review synthesis of research and practice-based literature exploring social innovation in a Covid-19 society

This Open University funded project explored how social innovation works, for whom and under what circumstances in a Covid-19/post Covid-19 society. Through a realist-informed review of research- and practice-based literature, the project intended to identify and synthesise research- and practice-based literature discussing social innovation practices during the Covid-19 pandemic and develop conceptual and practical assumptions on the extent to which social innovation processes play out in this context.

There are also a number of current doctoral students associated with the CSSE, including the following:

  • Raees Aslam, who is exploring the role of formal and informal institutions in advancing environmental practices of SMEs in Pakistan’s textile industry, a sector that employs 40% of total labour force and is a major contributor to the country’s exports and national output.
  • Gizem Kutlu, who is looking at the influence of gender on the practice and organisation of environmental entrepreneurship in Turkey.
  • Ronald Macintyre, who is examining the creation, assessment and evidencing of public and social value in voluntary sector organisations.
  • Princess Anifowose, who is looking at the development of entrepreneurial ecosystems and their capacity to promote social and environmental sustainability.

In addition, we are building on the Schools' successful track record of innovative and impactful doctoral research in this area, including:

  • Dr Olga Andrianova’s research, which examined employee engagement in corporate greening in Belarus and responded to an increased need for effective human resource management practices in this context.
  • Dr Richmond Lamptey’s, research on impact investing in Ghana, which provided new insights into the relationships between key actors – investors, fund managers and SMEs – and their role in promoting social and environmental change.
  • Dr Andres Morales Panchon’s challenging and insightful study examined how the ‘buen vivir’ concept influenced the development of community-based social and solidarity economy organisations in rural Columbia.
  • Dr Aqueel Wahga’s pioneering research on the environmental practices of small businesses in Pakistan’s leather industry, which examined the proto-institutional role of intermediaries.
  • Dr Sarah Williams’ influential study of the ways that SME owners and managers make sense of climate change, which revealed how they draw on particular configurations of personal values.