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he field “Social Enterprise and Collective Action for Transition” pursues three major goals:

- to develop research in the areas of social enterprise and other alternative forms of organizations resulting from collective action in a perspective of sustainability transition

- to feed, through its work, teaching in the areas of social enterprise and collective action for sustainability transition at the University of Liège and elsewhere;

- to participate in building an ecosystem that fosters the development of social enterprises and sustainability transition-driven businesses.


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Research projects cover a wide range of topics, both at the theoretical and empirical levels, using quantitative and qualitative methodologies. They are grouped under four main categories:

  • conceptual work defining the notions related to social enterprise and collective action for sustainability transition (e.g. social economy, non-profit or cooperative economy, commons, post-growth, etc.)
  • entrepreneurial dynamics underlying social innovation and collective action in new fields of activity (e.g. ethical finance, integration of low-skilled workers, etc.) and in the context of the sustainability transition (e.g. renewable energy, short food supply chains, slow mobility, etc.)
  • organizational models and management practices in social enterprises and other alternative forms of enterprises (e.g., democratic governance, social impact measurement, etc.)
  • the conditions for these enterprises’ deployment, including new financing modes such as philanthropy and social investment, post-growth policymaking

These research themes are developed in direct connection with teaching and dissemination to practitioners. To do this, the domain relies on 3 chairs (Walloon Region Chair in Social Economy, Eugenie Piedboeuf Chair in Extrafinancial performance of SMEs, and  Prosperity and Post-growth Chair (with ICHEC)) and on numerous action research projects. For example, the ESCAP project, thanks to funding from the Walloon region, aims to systematize the links between research, teaching and practice around various themes identified jointly. The research results thus make it possible to feed the course programs related to the subject, in particular the master's specialization in “Management of Social Enterprises and Transition” as well as the master’s specialization in Social Economy (in collaboration with UCLouvain ) and an interuniversity postgraduate certificate in Management of Social Economy Enterprises. 


Social Enterprise and Collective Action for Transition

Article (Scientific journals)
How Do Institutional Prescriptions (Fail to) Address Governance Challenges Under Institutional Hybridity? The Case of Governance Code Creation for Cooperative Enterprises
Cossey, Jozef; Billiet, Adrien; Dufays, Frédéric et al.
In pressIn Journal of Business Ethics
Article (Scientific journals)
Exit, Voice, or Both: Why Organizations Engage with Stakeholders
Billiet, Adrien; Bruneel, Johan; Dufays, Frédéric
In pressIn Business and Society
Article (Scientific journals)
Organizational diversity of social-mission platforms: Advancing a configurational research agenda
Dessy, Elodie; Mair, Johanna; Xhauflair, Virginie
2024In Information and Organization, 34 (3)
Contribution to collective works (Parts of books)
Peut-on mesurer l’impact d’une entreprise sociale à travers un unique ratio financier ? Critique de l’approche SROI
Xhauflair, Virginie ; Mertens de Wilmars, Sybille
2024In Grandvuillemin, Sophie; Perrin-Joly, Constance (Eds.) Les entreprises sociales : quels statuts, quels acteurs, pour quel impact ? Regards croisés.
Article (Scientific journals)
It all starts with a story: Questioning dominant entrepreneurial identities through collective narrative practices
Solbreux, Julie; Hermans, Julie; Pondeville, Sophie et al.
2024In International Small Business Journal, 42 (1), p. 90-123

Members of the field


Research teams



updated on 12/21/23

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