Institutional Design and Map of SSE Organizations in Asia

Hiroki Miura, November 2019

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Summary :

Background and overview of the research project: 2017-2019

The international academic team of Seoul National University, South Korea, has been engaging in the research of institutional design and governance of social and solidarity economy in recent year. The team focuses on its conceptual diversity in East Asia, interactions of multi-level practices, effects and challenges of formal institutionalization and policies, dynamism of social ecosystem and resilience of SSE etc. Community-based social enterprises are included in these issues as an important type of legal entity or a practical model. A main background of the research is a lack of understanding about a comparative view of SSE in East Asian countries and a long-term strategic view based on it, compared with the research development in European region.

In specific, the team held a consecutive international workshop during 2017-2018 with about 10 experts in the region. Its outcome will be published as Asian Social Economy: Realities and Perspectives (forthcoming). The team also published several books in Korean about domestic cases of grass-root level social economy, citizens’ politics, and the university-local community collaborative projects.

Abstract of a chapter: “Mapping Social Economy Organizations in Northeast Asia”

This research presents a comparative view of the institutional maps of Northeast Asian countries including China, Japan, and South Korea, based on the detailed analysis of more than 60 legal institutions and major policies of the three countries. From a systematic perspective, we have categorized the social organizations into four groups according to their relevance to an ideal governing structure of social economy organizations. Six conditions across the democratic, economic, and social realms have been examined. As a conclusion, we have argued that, in order to realize more effective organizational ecosystem, an innovated role of the quasi-social economy organizations including the commercialized producer cooperatives, mal-institutionalized community service organizations, corporate social responsibility of for-profit companies is important. These entities are expected to reinforce a limited role and impact of the major ones such as certified social enterprises and grass-root, community-based consumer cooperatives. Inclusive institutional reform will be needed to enhance their mutual complementarities and to pragmatically overcome an ideological threat between developmentalism and substativism in Northeast Asia.

In this paper, we have identified 9 legal entities as “community complex organization” as community-based social enterprises in a broad sense:

China : Community Service Organization, Rural Credit Cooperative, Rural Mutual Cooperative

Japan : Community Bank, Third Sector Organization, TMO, and Urban Districts Council

South Korea : Community Business Organization, Rural Community Enterprise, Local Credit Guarantee Foundation, Residential Association

Next step 2019-: Institutional analysis of SSE organizations in South and East Asia

The research team has stated a new project, expanding its scope to South East Asia and been supported by ILO and South Korean government. This new project focuses on the legal-institutional design and possibility of common institutional models of SSE organizations in South and East Asia. We will examine detailed contents of various laws, policies, regulation system of different entities in and outside of SSE in each country and their growth and impact on SDGs, decent work, or general social ecosystem.