How can social enterprises impact health and wellbeing?

Katy Gordon, Juliette Wilson, Andrea Tonner, Eleanor Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
487 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose -The objective of this paper is to examine the impacts of social enterprise on individual and community health and well-being. It focuses on community food initiatives, their impact on the social determinants of health and the influence of structure on their outcomes.
Design – Using an interpretive qualitative approach through case studies focused on two community food social enterprises, the research team conducted observations, interviews and ad-hoc conversations.
Findings - Researchers found that social enterprises impacted all layers of the social determinants of health model but that there was greater impact on individual lifestyle factors and social and community networks. Impact at the higher socio-economic, cultural and environmental layer was more constrained. There was also evidence of the structural factors both enabling and constraining impact at all levels.
Implications – This study helps to facilitate understanding on the role of social enterprises as a key way for individuals and communities to work together to build their capabilities and resilience when facing health inequalities. Building upon previous work, it provides insight into the practices, limitations and challenges of those engaged in encouraging and supporting behavioural changes.
Value - The paper contributes to a deeper insight of the use, motivation and understanding of social enterprise as an operating model by community food initiatives. It provides evidence of the impact of such social enterprises on the social determinants of health and uses structuration theory (Giddens, 1984) to explore how structure both influences and constrains the impact of these enterprises.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)697-713
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2018


  • social enterprise
  • structuration theory
  • food poverty
  • health and well-being
  • community food initiatives


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