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Local government and social enterprises in Tasmania: exploring relationships that build community value

Duniam, MF ORCID: 0000-0003-4753-1143 2017 , 'Local government and social enterprises in Tasmania: exploring relationships that build community value', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

Local government and social enterprises are significant development actors in local communities. Local governments are representatives of the people as agents of place. As agents of place, the primary role of local government is to shape place for the people through community engagement and community development. Social enterprises are businesses as well as social change agents, engaging citizens in local communities to build capacity and social capital. This thesis explores the nature of cross-sectoral relationships between local government and social enterprises, and their potential for public value creation. There has been little academic interest in community value creation through relationships between social enterprises and local government. This study contributes to understanding the nature and extent of existing relationships between local councils and social enterprises and the possible influence of these relationships on community capacity building.
Local government is being challenged to reform its role and rethink how it engages with community, and to recognise that communities can create change. There is an emerging policy interest in social enterprises as social change agents and development organisations within local community. This research examines the relationship between local government and social enterprises as it plays out in particular communities of place in the island State of Tasmania.
The research is conducted within the framework of the constructivist-interpretive paradigm utilising an eSurvey and case study methodology. The purpose of the constructivist approach is to capture diverse, reflective and experiential knowledge on the perceived social reality of participants. The research focuses on the interface and logic of relationships between local government and social enterprises. Over half of 29 councils in Tasmania responded to the eSurvey, and twenty six qualitative interviews were undertaken with four case study councils and eight case study social enterprises.
The research demonstrates a bureaucratic top-down approach that local government takes to community development, compared to a high level of self-initiated and self-organisation of community development by social enterprises. The research also illustrates the strength of social enterprises in their entrepreneurial responsiveness to finding local solutions to local issues, and suggests social enterprises have a potential role in community development partnerships with local government. And while each contributes significantly to public value, it is clear from the results that the idea of cross-sectoral collaboration to provide local solutions to local problems is not yet considered an option by either local government or social enterprises. Most councils struggle to understand the potential for social enterprises to contribute to the economic as well as the social fabric of their communities.
The results from this research are important to scholars researching cross-sectoral relationships that create public value. They are also of importance to local government and social enterprise practitioners within the community development space. This study contributes to knowledge of both local government and social enterprises by developing a conceptual framework to guide analysis and understanding of the complexities and dynamics of existing relationships between these two diverse organisations. The study suggests further research to examine the potential of cross-sectoral relationships between local government and community organisations such as social enterprises, as a strategic mechanism to resolve local social issues.
The research illustrates that community is the common factor between these local government and social enterprises. Community is where each organisation operates, serves the people and engages with citizens of community. Therefore, community is identified as a potential terrain for collaboration.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Duniam, MF
Keywords: local government, social enterprises, community development, community governance, community value
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Copyright 2017 the Author

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