Developing and animating enterprising individuals and communities: A case study from rural Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
Purpose – Socio-economic decline in rural areas is a pervasive and debilitating phenomenon in terms of regional development, particularly when former models of economic growth which once stimulated business generation and regeneration can no longer be counted on to do so. In these austere times, models of social and community enterprise are becoming more important. This corresponds to the emergence of theories of community-based entrepreneurship and social enterprise as explanatory variables. Such theories are used to label enterprising behaviour enacted within our communities, even when the theoretical arguments underpinning these re-conceptualisations require to be stretched to permit this. Often the resultant explanations are not entirely convincing. The purpose of this paper is to challenge existing conceptualisations of community-based entrepreneurship and social enterprise. Design/methodology/approach – Using a case study methodology, the paper reports on the activities of the Buchan Development Partnership (BDP) – a community-based project situated in the Buchan area of Aberdeenshire, Scotland – demonstrating how individual and community enterprise can be utilized to develop enterprising individuals and communities by growing enterprises organically. The case articulates this process, as it occurred in a rural development partnership using a narrative-based case study methodology to examine activities and growth strategies. Findings – The case bridges issues of entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial process, community and regional development and tells a story of community regeneration through the process of “Community Animateurship”. Research limitations/implications – Research, practical and social implications are discussed but in particular the need to adopt a more holistic “bottom up” approach. Originality/value – This case challenges existing conceptualisations of community-based entrepreneurship and social enterprise.