This week I’ve made some concrete progress. Social firms are currently moderately stimulated by the local authority. However, each stakeholder is working in a vacuum; there is a missing link between the social firms and the local authority. This week, I went to the van der Pekstraat in Amsterdam Noord to conduct several interviews with social firms in the neighborhood. The Pekbuurt is a traditional old Amsterdam neighborhood with high rates of unemployment. Nevertheless, a lot of (non-profit) social firms are located in this neighborhood; ideal for some fieldwork. I asked multiple firms about their relationship with the local authority and how the local authority supported them through the implementation process. Most of them answered they that their organization lacked cooperation with the local authority. The people explained that the local authority does not make any effort to see and look what they are actually doing. Hence, it’s oftentimes difficult to create a concrete business or revenue model. A third stakeholder in the cooperative process is mandatory in order to obtain reciprocal understanding. In other words, a new triangular relationship should be achieved. I think social return is going to play a key factor in this process. A refreshed, restructured approach is necessary. Nowadays, social entrepreneurship is entangled in education more and more. Young, ambitious people (students) could be the key to soak off the system thinking of the local authority and the social firms. They could act as cement in the triangular relationship. This is just a brainstorm idea derived from critically studying the literature.
Last monday, the 1st of december, I had a meeting with Frans Heessels at the trusted office of DWI and I discussed my findings. We had a very interesting talk about the progress of the challenge. We concluded that the case study is really getting concrete form now. By getting to the bottom of the problem, we can find out how the triangular relationship will eventually look like. However, this still requires knowledge in terms of research and fieldwork. I will conduct interviews with colleagues of Frans, starting with Giancarlo Carboni, who knows a lot about social return. Besides, I will try to interview a DWI colleagues of Frans, Egon Wees, who deals with social firms. The next meeting with Frans is planned on 15 december. Till that time, I will finish the first part of the case study: how the local authority currently deals with social firms. Besides, I will work towards a solution to the main problem: how could social return play a decisive role in interconnecting social firms and local authority and what aspect could unglue the system thinking of the local authority?