Dr. Ken Germaine outlines a new approach to allow public bodies, municipalities, representative bodies, business organisations and third sector networks or organisations engage in an array of EU-funding programmes such as ERASMUS+, INTERREG, Creative Europe, Europe for Citizens, HORIZON 2020 etc.   A new affordable model is aimed at increasing the number of organisations getting involved in EU projects.  More information from http://www.fundingmaster.eu, ken@fundingmaster.eu, Tel. 00 353 (0)83 405 1321.  Get involved!

 

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Expansionary fiscal policy or stimulus is proffered by many populist politicians as the solution to our current economic situation.  Spend more money through the Government channel of the national income equation and boost the economy through more jobs, more public services and reduced unemployment.  However, we have seen this before especially in 2 periods, 1977-1981 and 2001-2008 and the purpose of this paper is to contribute to a discussion on the safe use of fiscal policy and remembering the lessons from previous periods of expansionary fiscal policy before we start increasing government spending.  The size of the multiplier effect is critical for the success of these policies and Ireland, in line with most small, open, trading economies, have small to negligible multiplier effects.  The current round of ‘austerity’ is the result of the last round of ‘stimulus’ and recognising that monetary policy has done as much as it probably can to stimulate the European economy and that more fiscal interventions are needed, it must be targeted and considered not broad stroked.  The paper goes on to suggest one fiscal-policy strategy to stimulate the European economy by working across the single market and targeted expenditure on those countries and regions with the highest macro- multiplier effects and on those items with the highest rates of return.   Thus, countries and regions with high multipliers get the benefit of increased stimulus which should boost total single-market growth and countries and regions with low multipliers get the private-sector growth effect without running up increased public expenditure where it generates the least economic benefit.

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The aim of this paper is to discuss social enterprise and social entrepreneurship in the longer term.  There seems to be a policy and academic understanding of social enterprise in the short term but little understanding of the reality of operating, running and constantly refocusing social enterprises in the longer term.  To clarify, a social enterprise is an organisation, with formalised business model, corporate governance, management and staffing structures.  It also has key social and economic objectives; the key performance indicators set by the Board of Directors for the company to achieve on an ongoing basis.  The primary aim of a social enterprise is to achieve a core social mission but it needs to be understood that as circumstances and the social, economic, technological and political environment change, the social and economic objectives of the organisation will be refocused to ensure that the core social mission is still relevant and being met.  The economic objectives will similarly be revised and updated to ensure the business model is still relevant and being met.  The paper goes on to publish a survey of 102 existing social enterprises in Ireland conducted as part of my PhD thesis.  This is one of the broadest in-depth surveys of long-term social enterprises conducted and gives detailed insight into these organisations.

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The aim of this paper is to contribute to a coherent understanding within public policy of social innovation, social enterprise and social entrepreneurship.  These are terms that are used regularly but are contested, in that, there is no single agreed definition of their meanings.  However, this is not such a major issue for policy as there is only a requirement to understand how these mechanisms can be used.  A key message is to focus on the key social issues and challenges being addressed, not on the mechanism being used to address them.  Social innovation and social enterprise are not an end in themselves, they are a means to an end.  It is easy to be distracted by the technical terms and new phenomenon but they are mechanisms to be used to achieve a goal; in this case addressing the social challenge identified.

The paper goes on to outline a practical process for social innovation.  It recognises the integration of the innovation process and mainstreaming/commercialisation process.  It outlines the practical steps that can be taken at the community level to develop new solutions.   There is a need for greater social innovation infrastructure to facilitate the development of this sector.  The development of social innovation hubs and philanthropic trusts based in the community, not just in third-level institutions, is needed.

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I have worked in enterprise development and support in a number of roles over the past 20 years.  One question that has always interested me is how can you create a culture that fosters entrepreneurship and enterprise development?  Having seen the Irish entrepreneurial culture develop, grow, bust and re-emerge and also by working with entrepreneurs from many cultures and consulting in countries like the Czech Republic, I have always been interested in the process of creating the culture behind the economic process.  This is a difficulty for many trained in economics as they have been inculcated in the neoclassical economic model which is underpinned by several assumptions such as culture, social interaction and motivations other than profit motive are isolated from the analysis, or ‘with all other factors being equal’.  However, culture does matter and very much affects how a society, country or region promotes a culture of entrepreneurship.  Some years ago I wrote a detailed literature review on enterprise and entrepreneurship and one of the areas I focused on was entrepreneurial culture.  So, this article will continue by setting the context in which this issue is being discussed with a literature review and will then move to a discussion on the practical policy implications.  In particular, I wish to emphasise that creating an entrepreneurial culture is best created by not trying to achieve a model of best practice or adopting someone else’s.  It is created by taking the broad free-market framework and adopting it to local circumstances.  It is created by accepting that one is engaging in a process that requires ongoing institutional and policy change as the city, region or country develops along the pathway to progress.  It is achieved by recognising that political leadership is important and a broad consensus of the path of development is necessary.  An independent and consistent legal system is a precursor to an entrepreneurial culture and creating a culture in which this process in enabled will take long-term policy commitment, and, in many cases, an evolution in the local culture as it changes to accept the culture of entrepreneurship within its traditional cultural norms.

To full article can be downloaded here