Clegg, Philip (2021) Social Enterprise Start-Up Support Interventions: A Realist-Informed Investigation. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This Doctor of Enterprise research is focused on the concept of social enterprise, and its increasing importance from an economic, environmental and academic perspective. Specifically, this research investigates the social enterprise start-up support landscape; its provision and typology within West Yorkshire, and the responses to accessing such interventions, from the perspective of participants. The research is explicitly linked to a social enterprise start-up unit, CASE, which acts as an extension to the current University of Huddersfield Enterprise Team services. CASE acts as a catalyst, informer, and informant, of this research.

This investigation differs to existing studies, which have focused on the provision of support to existing social enterprises, and, being institutionally driven, the perceived effectiveness from the provider’s perspective. This research utilises a realist-informed theoretical and methodological approach, to gain deeper insight into what types of interventions work for whom, in what circumstances and why, within the start-up phase. Utilising qualitative realist-informed interviews, the study focuses on the support sector itself to reveal the current landscape of social enterprise start-up provision within West Yorkshire. This enables the creation of initial rough programme theories (IRPTs), reflecting the typology of available programmes and their components. These IRPTs subsequently form the basis of realist-informed interviews with current and previous participants of those programmes, to reveal a deeper insight into the effectiveness of the provision from their perspective.

Most frequently found within healthcare studies, the utilisation of a realist-informed theoretical and methodological approach, and the innovatively applied IRPTs to assist with the participant interviews, are novel within this business and entrepreneurship context. The research objectives to understand the current typology of start-up support provision within West Yorkshire, and the participants experiences of accessing that provision, conclude and contribute to the field, by providing a set of guiding principles and recommendations for the social enterprise sector, informed by the social enterprise sector.

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