The social innovation of social cooperatives operating on confiscated mafia properties: support factors and critical issues.

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Abstract

In recent years, the theme of Social Innovation (SI) has gained significant importance both inacademic studies and in policy. In the many definitions of SI proposed by scholars the aspect ofchange seems to be central. Making social innovation means to find and to provide new solutions tothe social needs of individuals and communities; to develop and to introduce changes in therelationships between individuals and institutions; and again, to redefine the priorities of the economicand social development. In this paper we focus on a particular form of SI realized by socialcooperatives operating in Italy on assets confiscated from the mafia. Thanks to a law of popularinitiative these goods can be allotted to social cooperatives to carry on entrepreneurial activities,involving also disadvantaged people at the risk of social exclusion. In this way it is possible togenerate employment and to increase social, cultural and economic development of the affected localcommunities. The social use makes such goods productive and allows a redemption from the mafia.The very existence of these cooperatives has an important symbolic value affirming the presence ofthe State and enhancing the credibility of the Institutions. The aim of this paper is to identify thefactors that support this kind of entrepreneurship generating SI and difficulties to overcome for itsdiffusion in the country. To this end, the SI literature and the Italian set of rules concerning confiscatedassets will be analyzed. The analysis of institutional documents of associations and institutes involvedin the creation process of the social cooperatives, integrated by interviews to key actors, will completethe theorical phase. Then, a case of entrepreneurship in the Sicilian country will be presented with aqualitative approach adopting the representative single case method. The study shows the importanceof certain factors supporting the development of this kind of entrepreneurship, namely: a network ofactors involved in the creation of social cooperatives; a synergic collaboration among the differentactors around a common purpose; an extraordinary commitment and the cooperation betweeninstitutions and anti-mafia associations. The critical issues that limit its diffusion in the country arerepresented by the following aspects: the assignment times of confiscated assets (still too long); thelack of financial resources to ensure a timely and effective use of the assets; the difficulties of accessto credit for cooperatives.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Pagine543-558
Numero di pagine16
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2015

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