Community businesses in depleted communities : lessons from Cape Breton and Mondragon
The broad topic of the thesis is the emergence of local businesses enterprises within the limitations of a depleted community. The thesis explores this topic through an examination of the community business approach to development as a novel response to the plight of depleted communities. Depleted communities are characterized as places where, despite economic disparity, residents maintain strong attachments to place. In the absence of the mainstream economy, alternative approaches to economy and local development are often attempted in depleted communities; community business is one such response. New Dawn Enterprises in Cape Breton, Canada's oldest community development corporation is studied as an example of the community business approach. New Dawn is compared to the Mondragon Co-operative Corporation in Spain. From these examples a theory of community business is developed regarding: how community businesses are formed; how they respond to the socioeconomic needs of the community; and how they maintain communitarian values within competitive business structures. Community businesses were found to emerge through novel forms of entrepreneurship: community business entrepreneurship. Community business entrepreneurs are able to access community assets and lever them into economic assets through business structures. The community businesses that they establish, it was found, are structured around three basic principles: wealth creation, community rootedness, and social purpose. These three principles protect the social nature of the organization. It was also found that leadership in community businesses plays an important role in maintaining the balance of social goals and business practices, particularly in absence of the original entrepreneur. The two case studies demonstrate that business development is possible in depleted communities, particularly when focused on the community assets of such places. While such business development is possible, the cases also show that community businesses on their own are not sufficient to replete depleted communities.