This dissertation comprises a comparative socio-legal study of three tailor-made legal forms in Greece, Belgium and the UK that promote social enterprises, and contribute to their legitimisation and recognition. The research is extended to the Netherlands, which does not provide for a special legal form for social enterprises.
The first part of the dissertation includes a comparison of the tailor-made legal forms that structure a social enterprise in the three selected jurisdictions. The three legal forms entail: (i) the company type; (ii) the cooperative type; and (iii) the legal label. In the three jurisdictions, the legal forms adhere to a similar substantive core, i.e. they have similar key characteristics. One of them is stakeholder participation. All three examined legal forms commonly allow for the formal participation of stakeholders in the decision-making processes.
In the second part, it is explored to what extent participatory governance structures prescribed in tailor-made laws stimulate the participation of stakeholders in decision-making in practice. One finding is that they contribute to the pursuit and scrutiny of the social enterprise’s social purpose. Three case studies per jurisdiction have been conducted to test the implementation of participatory governance structures in practice. The empirical evidence demonstrates that the formally prescribed participatory governance is not always fully implemented in practice. Instead, informal, direct but regular processes are more frequently developed in the governance of social enterprises.