#EURegionsWeek UNIVERSITY: Citizen Entrepreneurship: Towards involvement, inclusion and integration of citizens in entrepreneurial Europe
The EU Regions (Universities Session) on Citizen Entrepreneurship explored the unique phenomenon of CE from five linked perspectives:
- Perceiving the phenomenon of entrepreneurship and innovation as the creation, distribution and sustenance of social goods. Social goods account for both public goods and those created for private gain because their provenance is socially embedded, giving priority to the wider benefits that accrue to society;
- Engaging citizens in opportunity recognition, resource mobilisation, design and production, and organisation formation associated with social goods by helping them develop capabilities based on the notion of collective efficacy which in turn fulfil their sense of well-being;
- Fostering entrepreneurial and civic engagement in urban environments or the ‘urban commons’ where a wide range of social goods ranging from public spaces, the utilities, care services, hard and soft infrastructure development, offer opportunities of, for example, renewing living conditions (the Hanover ‘Place Project’ in Germany), the greening of an environment (the Sonederborg ‘Project Zero’ project in Denmark), improving neighbourhood social engagement (‘Socially Engaged’);
- Expanding the scope of social science research together with developing policies for entrepreneurial social engagement that address, inter-alia, critical issues affecting the fragmentation of people’s lives, the crisis of public institutions, runaway inequalities, skewed technology development and the marketization of interpersonal relations;
- Building on the rise of collaborative and intermediary forms of citizen dialogues, possibly enhanced by technological developments, the emergence of new approaches to urban commons governance and management, sharing, protection and development.
Where CE involves citizens from idea creation through to implementation stages of both commercial and community-based activities, and where such projects are not restricted to individuals or groups of experts concerned with enterprise or social innovation, it reduces the tensions between private, public and social enterprise and the differentiated values they generate. Where the citizens exercise collective efficacy as users, consumers, producers, and voters, they can engage with the formation, development and growth stages of the enterprises together with the state in acts of collective governance. This results in the avoidance of a fixation on entrepreneurship as a vehicle for growth and the cultivation of the practice of entrepreneurship as economic and social development.
CE brings the citizen into the heart of local development, thereby enhancing the understanding of institutional frames, local needs, necessities and opportunities. By identifying the key factors for employing CE as a driver for urban transition, our research sets in motion a community-based entrepreneurship research and development platform that could accommodate different forms of research of plural value to the community where it takes place. The study results should be able to inform research and policy development all over Europe, especially to try and help counter the uncertainties of fragile institutional environments.
Take away message
The CE project opens up possibilities for a new, epistemological approach to engaging with entrepreneurship, its meaning, functionality and value. This is based on a combinatorial approach to the use of different social and economic theories, methods for research. It also offers opportunities for silo-less, citizen-engaged institutional policy making and governance structures. The unfolding of agency across different economic and social actors should attract new methods and players for social science research and for embedding entrepreneurship in regional policy making.
Denmark (Dr Su-Hyun Berg)
Citizen engagement in and with the environment, especially citizen education, should start at a very early stage. As we can learn from the Danish ‘Project Zero’ case, early education and training can enhance the maximum level of citizen involvement in the energy transition project.
Germany (Professor Ursula Weisenfeld)
In ‘PlaceProject’, participants practice alternative ways of living. They focus on their local space, yet they exert influence well beyond the niche, setting examples for interested citizens.