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Title: Social enterprise and the environmental mission : orchards in the United Kingdom and Germany
Author: Keech, Michael Daniel
ISNI:       0000 0004 5346 5792
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2014
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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.
Supervisor: Sunley, Peter ; Roe, Emma Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: GE Environmental Sciences ; HB Economic Theory