Community-Based Social Enterprises as Actors for Neo-Endogenous Rural Development: A Multi-Stakeholder Approach
Rural shrinking is an ongoing phenomenon in many parts of Europe. Against this backdrop neo-endogenous rural development has been gaining support as a conceptual and policy approach which stress the com- bination of local and external actors, resources and forces for enhancing an integrated development of rural areas. Within this governance framework rural social enterprises have been stressed as potential key actors contribut- ing to rural development. This paper explores, through 36 semi-structured interviews with diverse stakeholders of two Irish community-based rural social enterprises, the role of these organizations in contributing to a neo- endogenous development. Our findings show how their mobilization of the social attachment of their members, their collective character and their delivery of tangible results have been key to develop collaborative dynamics with stakeholders from different sectors and situated at various spatial scales. Moreover, these organizations have accommodated global-exogenous forces buffering their effects through locally-focused solutions which address the needs of their rural communities, despite their incapacity to address the causes of these global-exogenous trends. We conclude that rural community-based social enterprises can play a relevant role in contributing to neo-endogenous development, however, institutional frameworks that address the diversity of rural areas and that enhance balanced collaborations among different rural development stakeholders are a precondition to unlock their potential.