Keynote Address - Dr Rory Ridley-Duff

Rendering the social solidarity economy to make cooperative and mutual enterprises visible to educators, policy makers and researchers

This presentation will re-examine arguments advanced in Chapter 2 of Rory’s co-authored book, Understanding Social Enterprise: Theory and Practice (2nd Ed.) that the social solidarity economy (SSE) is linked to the development of cooperative and mutual enterprises (CMEs). In business education, arguments about economic development have been dominated by the perceived duality between public (state) and private (market-based) systems of ownership and control. The rise of social enterprise is presented as a ‘third system' that provides a distinct alternative.

Rory makes more explicit, the nuances in the differences between organisations based on mutual principles and charitable action, to develop an argument that there is both a ‘third’ and ‘fourth’ type of property. Each property type is organised and regulated in different ways according to the motives that underpin human action. By understanding how these motivations are linked to different forms of enterprising activity, the case for a paradigm shift in business education is made that renders cooperative and mutual enterprises visible.

Instead of looking at the landscape of business education by counter-posing neo-liberalism (private markets) against altruistic expressions of communitarianism (charities and the state), the axis can be changed to one that presents a continuum from social liberalism to pragmatic communitarianism. This changed perspective renders trade unions, community associations, cooperative businesses, mutual societies and community-owned enterprises visible in a broad spectrum of member-controlled/democratically governed social enterprises. CMEs sit at the centre of this spectrum by acting as the bridge between trade unions at one end and community enterprises at the other.

Dr Rory Ridley-Duff - Keynote Address, SIERC 2016 Innovation Conference Dr Rory Ridley-Duff
Reader in Cooperative and Social Enterprise,
Sheffield Business School

Rory worked for 12 years as a director of the workers' co-operative Computercraft Ltd before building his academic career through a PhD study of School Trends Ltd during its conversion to a social enterprise. His primary research interest is the process by which democratic relations develop in both informal and formal organisations and affect governing processes. He has now authored 35 scholarly papers, four books and two novels. In addition to Understanding Social Enterprise: Theory and Practice, he has published The Case for FairShares to articulate findings from a decade of action research at Sheffield Business School. His recent work explores social enterprise as a route to solidarity between social entrepreneurs, producers, consumers and small investors (see

His research has been published in: Human Relations; Corporate Governance: An International Review; Industrial Relations Journal (IRJ); International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research (IJEBR); Social Enterprise Journal; Journal of Cooperative Studies; Econviews: Review of Contemporary Business, Entrepreneurship and Economics Issues; Journal of Organisational Transformation and Social Change, and Action Research.
He has received 'best paper' awards from Emerald Publishing, the Institute of Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE) and the International Social Innovation Research Conference (ISIRC).

He is currently supervising 8 doctoral studies examining aspects of culture, governance and industrial relations in the social economy and maintains connections to practice through directorships with Social Enterprise Europe Ltd and FairShares Association Ltd, and acting as an expert for ICA Working Groups and the British Council.

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