Purpose - By comparing recent international research with prior findings this paper examines the role that specialist intermediaries play in the development of sustainable social enterprises. Methodology - Utilising a mixed methods approach incorporating surveys and semi-structured interviews the study involved a sample of 93 social enterprise leaders from Scotland and Australia enabling comparative analysis. Findings - The research suggests that contemporary social enterprise leaders view intermediaries as an important factor in the success of their organisations. They further see these entities as not only playing a key financing role but moreover offering a broad range of assistance including networking, business advisory and development support. However, considerable international variation in the prevalence and nature of intermediary support was reported by the participants. Practical implications - The paper identifies that specialist sectorial intermediaries provide policy – makers with the opportunity to build socio-economic value for the community. However government must ensure that intermediaries provide an integrated and holistic suite of support tailored to the needs and stage of development of the social enterprise if their impact is to be optimised. Although a supportive environment for social enterprise development, including a framework of specialist intermediary organisations, appears to be somewhat developed in Scotland, the research indicates that Australian policy-makers are yet to introduce such initiatives. This indicates considerable potential to build the sector in Australia.
Journal of New Business Ideas and Trends / Vol. 14, No. 1, pp.23-40