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Social enterprise and the environmental mission: orchards in the United Kingdom and Germany

Social enterprise and the environmental mission: orchards in the United Kingdom and Germany
Social enterprise and the environmental mission: orchards in the United Kingdom and Germany
This thesis explores how rural social enterprises (SEs) in England and Germany pursue their environmental objectives to conserve traditional orchards. Such valuable biospheres lose money, leading their owners to replace them with more profitable land uses. SEs in both countries strive to revive commercial incentives to maintain these cultural landscapes. Policy makers have invested high expectations in SE for tackling social exclusion and strengthening civic participation in the UK, and in relation to labour market reforms following German reunification. Academic interest in the social and commercial performance of SE is not matched by research into its environmental potentials.

In England semi-structured interviews with 33 people examined SEs linked to estates of the National Trust. In Germany 18 people were interviewed within six social enterprises with varied structures including associative, co-operative or unlimited/limited liability. In all cases orchard products are sold to generate money to fund orchard conservation.

Analysis was framed by the concepts of field theory and market co-ordination advocated by Jens Beckert. He argues that market actors must co-ordinate three ‘problems’ - value, competition and co-operation - to secure market stability. Observing reciprocal and dynamic relationships in the market ‘field’ between networks, institutions and cognition, reveals how markets are socially structured. The appropriation of Beckert’s theories aids SE study: firstly, the intervention of SEs clearly stimulates market dynamics; and secondly, SEs attempt to re-configure market stability in favour of improved environmental results.

Analysis revealed that the National Trust’s efforts to market juice increases public engagement, but fails clearly to link juice sales and orchard conservation. The German networked market is a low-risk, low-turnover model that incentivises farmers to maintain orchards without changing market structures, thereby creating an alliance between market actors. Lastly, German market-building SEs use complex, risky operations to compete with conventional firms. Both German models produce positive environmental outcomes.

Key challenges linked to using Beckert’s ideas are that market power is not sought by environmental SEs, which see profit as a means to an end, and that field theory is largely aspatial, and thus unable to fully explain local variations in the environmental performance of each model. Nevertheless, Beckert’s structure for observing market interventions offers potential for practitioners/policy makers concerned with multi-functional rural development.
Keech, Michael Daniel
b2a656a2-b149-45dd-95f4-ce325b343d6c
Keech, Michael Daniel
b2a656a2-b149-45dd-95f4-ce325b343d6c
Sunley, Peter
a3efb579-965f-4f39-812e-9e07caf15afd
Roe, Emma
f7579e4e-3721-4046-a2d4-d6395f61c675

Keech, Michael Daniel (2014) Social enterprise and the environmental mission: orchards in the United Kingdom and Germany. University of Southampton, Geography, Doctoral Thesis, 268pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This thesis explores how rural social enterprises (SEs) in England and Germany pursue their environmental objectives to conserve traditional orchards. Such valuable biospheres lose money, leading their owners to replace them with more profitable land uses. SEs in both countries strive to revive commercial incentives to maintain these cultural landscapes. Policy makers have invested high expectations in SE for tackling social exclusion and strengthening civic participation in the UK, and in relation to labour market reforms following German reunification. Academic interest in the social and commercial performance of SE is not matched by research into its environmental potentials.

In England semi-structured interviews with 33 people examined SEs linked to estates of the National Trust. In Germany 18 people were interviewed within six social enterprises with varied structures including associative, co-operative or unlimited/limited liability. In all cases orchard products are sold to generate money to fund orchard conservation.

Analysis was framed by the concepts of field theory and market co-ordination advocated by Jens Beckert. He argues that market actors must co-ordinate three ‘problems’ - value, competition and co-operation - to secure market stability. Observing reciprocal and dynamic relationships in the market ‘field’ between networks, institutions and cognition, reveals how markets are socially structured. The appropriation of Beckert’s theories aids SE study: firstly, the intervention of SEs clearly stimulates market dynamics; and secondly, SEs attempt to re-configure market stability in favour of improved environmental results.

Analysis revealed that the National Trust’s efforts to market juice increases public engagement, but fails clearly to link juice sales and orchard conservation. The German networked market is a low-risk, low-turnover model that incentivises farmers to maintain orchards without changing market structures, thereby creating an alliance between market actors. Lastly, German market-building SEs use complex, risky operations to compete with conventional firms. Both German models produce positive environmental outcomes.

Key challenges linked to using Beckert’s ideas are that market power is not sought by environmental SEs, which see profit as a means to an end, and that field theory is largely aspatial, and thus unable to fully explain local variations in the environmental performance of each model. Nevertheless, Beckert’s structure for observing market interventions offers potential for practitioners/policy makers concerned with multi-functional rural development.

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Dan Keech PhD Thesis Final 23rd April 2014.pdf - Other
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More information

Published date: April 2014
Organisations: University of Southampton, Geography & Environment

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 365373
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/365373
PURE UUID: 47271bb1-9b27-40da-b134-a5602d9feb98
ORCID for Emma Roe: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-4674-2133

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 03 Nov 2014 11:18
Last modified: 14 Nov 2018 01:32

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Contributors

Author: Michael Daniel Keech
Thesis advisor: Peter Sunley
Thesis advisor: Emma Roe ORCID iD

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