Three major research axes are developed within the ICSEM Project; the “Overall Work Plan 2013-2017” provides a detailed description of these three axes. The first two axes were launched simultaneously and can be considered as belonging to a first major phase, corresponding to research carried out at the national level, while the third axis corresponds to a second phase, building on the results of the first two axes, and aiming to carry out comparative analysis at the international level.


  • Axis 1: Country contributions: Context, concepts, models

The first major axis includes three parts. It aims to understand SE-related context and concepts in each country (Part A), to identify SE models (Part B) and to describe their institutional trajectories (Part C). The major outputs of this first research axis are country studies, published as ICSEM Working Papers.

For Research Partners having joined the Project from the outset, this stage started in July 2013 and was completed in June 2015: the first batch of ICSEM Working Papers were indeed published on the occasion of the General ICSEM Meeting in Helsinki. Research Partners having joined the Project later however have the possibility to complete this stage later, according to a schedule agreed upon on a case-by-case basis with the Scientific Coordinators.

  • Axis 2: Building up an international database on social enterprise

The second major axis corresponds to the collection of data about the SE models identified in the first axis, on the basis of a common questionnaire. These data will feed international comparative analysis within the Project’s third axis, with a view to proposing—among other results—a worldwide typology of SE models.

The questionnaire was developed through an interactive process with ICSEM Research Partners. The final versions of the Questionnaire and of the Interview and Coding Guide were sent to all Research Partners in February 2015. A LimeSurvey version of the Questionnaire was also made available to all participating Research Partners for the on-line coding of the collected data. For each SE model identified, Research Partners were to collect and code data for three or four social enterprises representative of the model. The data collection and on-line coding processes were completed in March 2017.


  • Axis 3: Comparative analysis of SE models within world regions and at the global level

The third axis aims at the production of joint publications focusing on comparative analyses of social enterprise models among countries and world regions.

These publications will be fed by works carried out along the two previous axes, since they will be based on country-level Working Papers, the pooling and exploitation of data collected through the surveys as well as transversal analysis of some issues, such as institutionalization of SE models, among others.

The first major publications, in the form of joint books or journals’ special issues, will rely on comparative works and debates among countries within each world region. In such a perspective, regional meetings will be critical places where to present and discuss comparative analyses of SE models as well as to decide which transversal issues are to be dealt with.

Comparative analyses at the global level (among regions) will also be developed. They will be shared and discussed at global meetings, to be held before or after major worldwide research conferences, like during the Project's First Phase.

These are the main common features of all publication projects but each of these projects will rely on specific dynamics of collaboration.