Entrepreneurship and management in the social economy


Sybille Mertens

General overview:

The course focuses on social entrepreneurship and the management of social economy organisations. The "social economy" refers to all private-sector enterprises whose main goal is social, namely non-profit organisations, cooperatives, NGOs, mutual societies, foundations. These enterprises develop social, cultural or environmental projects, or projects related to health, development, fair trade, alternative finance, etc.

The course includes two parts. The first one describes the social economy and analyses the raisons d'être of social entrepreneurship. The second part is more practice-oriented: it reviews the various dimensions of the business plan of an enterprise with a social purpose (marketing, financing, CSR, governance).

Goals of the course:

The course aims to provide a new grid of analysis to understand collective stakes at society level, to improve the knowledge of social enterprise, to highlight the specificity of management in social economy enterprises and to allow the student to gain knowledge of these "adapted" management principles.

Practical work:

The practice-oriented dimension in embedded in the whole course.

Lecture notes:

Scientific articles (in English and in French) constitute the basis for the theoretical part. Students receive a reading folder with the major articles to be read. Students are also given a complementary reading list. For the second part, students receive a grid for elaborating a social business plan.


Evaluation is based on the students' social business plans. Students work in groups of two to elaborate the latter; they have to produce a 20-page written work on their business plan, and this work is presented orally by its two authors during the exam session.


Cera Chair

Centre for Social Economy HEC-Management School of the University of Liege

Sart Tilman B33 - bte 4

B-4000 Liege

Tel.: +3243662751

e-mail: smertens@ulg.ac.be