#EURegionsWeek UNIVERSITY: Citizen Entrepreneurship: Towards involvement, inclusion and integration of citizens in entrepreneurial Europe

Wed 9, October 2019
14:30 - 16:00

The main objective of the session on Citizen Entrepreneurship (CE) is to promote the idea of proactive involvement of citizens, as users, producers, consumers, and environmental gatekeepers in the private, social, and public forms of new venture creation and growth. The workshop will explore how citizens can be engaged in entrepreneurial initiatives beyond self-employment and business creation where their ideas, resources and self-governance capabilities can be harnessed for sustainable economic and social development in local communities.  

CE means the involvement of citizens, as users, producers and collective governance gatekeepers, in the private, social, and public entrepreneurship process. The session will explore how the proactive involvement of citizens in productive social and economic projects that offer new ways of using technology, and harnessing a common pool of financial, social and human capital, to address people’s aspirations and needs, could act as a meaningful antidote to decreasing levels of trust in institutions, businesses and governance processes in Europe. The session will feature selected cases from Germany, Poland, Denmark and the UK to show a comprehensive, multifaceted picture of CE in the EU and demonstrate how multiple ways of CE engagement can contribute to achieving social and economic cohesion and integration. Our objective is to offer policy, practice and research with a new agenda for economic and social engagement with different communities of interest.  

The 90-minute session will start with an opening presentation of an overview of CE, its scope and meaning together with prospects for CE-based policy development cutting across institutional, social, and collective governance agendas for economic and social development. This overview will draw from both economic and social theory, current research and project work-in-progress. The overview will be followed by four presentations of various good practice initiatives and case studies on CE across Europe and elsewhere, and how effective policy could be developed to leverage multiple forms of citizen engagement in the entrepreneurship process.  

Participants will be able to identify and exchange ideas, tools, and methods for action-oriented research and policy development.  Discussions will also be used to develop a Policy Brief on CE, which augments regional innovation and community-led local development, cross-border cooperation, economic development and social inclusion. The workshop will be followed by a report based on the evidence and ideas presented and by a range of articles and blogs.

Jay Mitra, jmitra@essex.ac.uk, Essex Business School, University of Essex, United Kingdom.
Su-Hyun Berg, Senior adviser, Senior adviser to the Seoul Energy Corporation and the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and Independent Consultant, Germany.
Jay Mitra, jmitra@essex.ac.uk, Essex Business School, University of Essex, United Kingdom.
Mariusz Sokołowicz, Associate Professor and VICE DEAN: Faculty’s Projects and Course of Study, Faculty of Economics and Sociology, University of Lodz, Poland.
Ursula Weisenfeld, Professorship for Business Administration, in Particular Innovation Management, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany.
The Future of the EU and the roles of the Regions and Cities
Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP), European Regional Science Association (ERSA), Regional Studies Association European Foundation
english (en)
SQUARE - Brussels Convention Centre - 201 A+201 B.
Address: Mont des Arts, 1000 Brussels

Session summary

The EU Regions (Universities Session) on Citizen Entrepreneurship explored the unique phenomenon of CE from five linked perspectives:

  1. 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;
  2. 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;
  3. 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’);
  4. 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;
  5. 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.

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  • Posted by: Jay MITRA
    On: 07/09/2019 - 16:46pm

    Citizen Entrepreneurship

    The session offers a unique opportunity to develop a new perspective on creative, citizen engagement with entrepreneurial approaches to decision making, new organisation development and economic and social value creation.