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Classifying social enterprise models in Australia

This paper aims to document the nature of social enterprise models in Australia, their evolution and institutional drivers. The paper draws on secondary analysis of source materials and the existing literature on social enterprise in Australia. Analysis was verified through consultation with key actors in the social enterprise ecosystem. With its historical roots in an enterprising non-profit sector and the presence of cooperative and mutual businesses, the practice of social enterprise in Australia is relatively mature. Yet, the language of social enterprise and social entrepreneurship remains marginal and contested. The nature of social enterprise activity in Australia reflects the role of an internally diverse civil society within an economically privileged society and in response to an increasingly residualised welfare state. Australia’s geography and demography have also played determining roles in the function and presence of social enterprise, particularly in rural and remote communities. The paper contributes to comparative understandings of social enterprise and provides the first detailed account of social enterprise development in Australia.

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