Building a UNified theory for the development and resilience of Institutions for Collective Action for Europe in the past millennium (UNICA)
UNICA aims at building a unified theory that explains the factors behind the development and spread of institutions for collective action (ICAs) across Europe over the past millennium, and that identifies which elements have contributed to the claim they would be more resilient than top-down, share-holder types of organizations. The project will allow us to connect micro-changes to macro-results, and to reflect on the potential outcomes of the current new “wave” of institutions for collective action. These results will be transferred to CollectieveKracht, a self-governing platform for self-governing ICAs today, which will be developed on the basis of the principles of Extreme Citizen Science, in cooperation with and co-funded by several external parties.
The UNICA-project is funded by a VICI-grant awarded by the Dutch Research Council to prof. Tine De Moor.
> More info on the UNICA project
Social enterprises are an important player in catalyzing innovative solutions to societal challenges. One of the biggest barriers preventing many social enterprises from scaling their operation and impact remains their lack of funding. While this has primarily been attributed to an insufficient supply of financing options available to social enterprises, scholars and financiers have recently started to remark challenges associated with a lack of demand for existing financing options. In line with this, scholars have highlighted a fragmented financing market, indicating that variations in supply and demand of financing depending on sector, geographical area or development phase. So far, the business model of social enterprises has not been vastly explored yet to study and analyze variations in the supply and demand of financing options. Analyzing the financing market through the lens of the business model is important for two reasons. First, it helps to understand whether the growth of the social enterprise financing market is benefitting all types of social enterprises equally, or whether the growth in supply only benefits a specific type of social enterprises. As business models vary in their degree of complexity and strategic tensions, they might influence the risk and return perceptions of financiers and therefore investment attractiveness. Second, the business model might also influence social enterprise’s need for financing, and the type of financing that is considered appropriate and attainable. Our team member Karoline Heitmann is working on a PhD dissertation to assess how the business model influences a social enterprise’s financing strategy and the likeliness of receiving external financing.
As part of the Sustainable Cooperation program (SCOOP), an ongoing study examines how platform cooperatives in the gig economy can become resilient towards the future. The focus of the study lies on four key challenges of cooperation in worker-owned-and-governed platforms. How do founders of platform cooperatives manage competing demands during start-up? Under what conditions do workers stay committed as members of a platform cooperative? To what extent does digital mediation influence cooperative members’ participation in decision-making? And how do platform cooperatives employ rules to stimulate labour productivity and prevent freeriding? Our team member Damion Bunders is working on a PhD dissertation on platform cooperatives.
Citizen collectives / CollectieveKracht
The Knowledge Platform CollectieveKracht facilitates the mutual exchange of knowledge and expertise that may help citizens’ collectives to become dynamic and resilient organizations. The Knowledge Platform CollectieveKracht links citizens’ collectives from a wide range of sectors, regardless of their stage of development. The platform is primarily based on the need for knowledge as indicated by the citizens’ collectives themselves.
The Knowledge Platform CollectieveKracht is based on the existing cooperation between the research team Social Enterprise and Institutions for Collective Action, led by prof. Tine De Moor and a firm base of citizens’ collectives from a wide range of societal sectors.
Successful citizens’ collectives are often burdened by questionnaires and press. CollectieveKracht brings researchers and other stakeholders together, canalizing the requests sent to citizens’ collectives. The knowledge platform offers citizens’ collectives and their network organizations a unique opportunity to address specific issues to three ‘partner labs’, networks comprising academics as well as representatives of both financial and governmental institutions.
The cornerstone of the CollectieveKracht knowledge platform was laid by combined qualitative research and interviews among citizen collectives, resulting in the report ‘Krachtiger als collectief’ (More powerful as a collective, 2019). The findings of the research formed the basis of the knowledge platform. Its main goal is to improve the circulation of knowledge of and about (the functioning of) citizen collectives and to engage stakeholders in conversation, regardless of the sectors in which they are active.
The project ‘”Common Rules” follows from an eponymous project that ran from September 2011 until August 2014, funded by an Internationalisation Grant of € 45,597 by The Dutch Scientific Organization NWO. The original project regarded the regulation of institutions for managing commons in Europe from 1100 to 1800, aiming to understand how efficient and effective regulation can be developed, executed by well-functioning institutions. It compared bodies of rules by studying commons in Western and Southern Europe, using the regulations that can be found in various historical records, for several centuries in each case.
> More information on the project Common Rules