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Professor Roger Spear

Profile summary

Research interests

Roger Spear is Emeritus Professor of Social Entrepreneurship and Chair of the Co-operatives Research Unit, Member of the Ciriec Scientific Committee, founder member and vice-president of the EMES research network on social enterprise, and teaches organisational systems and research methods in the Department of Engineering and Innovation, STEM Faculty at the Open University. 

He is widely known for research on innovation and development in the third sector, particularly social enterprises.  Studies have included: a study of labour market work integration in several European countries;  a comparative study of social enterprises in Europe (EMES project Frameworks 4&5: see )). He was one of the coordinators of a major CIRIEC project on employment and the third system (funded by European Commission).  Recent projects include: part of a team evaluating the UK government’s social enterprise strategy (with GHK); and two UNDP funded projects on social enterprise in Eastern Europe, and former CIS countries; a much quoted research project on Governance and Social Enterprise. He was recently an international expert on two EC Peer Reviews: The social economy from the perspective of active inclusion, and on the French social economy.  He has been an expert consultant on several OECD projects on the social economy in Korea, Slovenia, and Serbia.  Other important policy work include: UNDP project on social enterprise in Slovakia; a World Bank project in Egypt on social entrepreneurship (after the Arab Spring). 

He is also currently guest professor at Roskilde University, Copenhagen, Denmark, where he helped coordinate a GEM study of social entrepreneurship; and contribute to a pioneering International Masters in Social Entrepreneurship. His most recent projects were contributing to an EC project mapping social enterprise and their ecosystems in all countries of Europe, and a Joseph Rowntree Foundation funded project on Cities, the social economy, and inclusive growth.

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Co-operatives Research UnitUnitFaculty of Mathematics, Computing and Technology
Socially Responsible Management and Regulation ThemeThemeThe Faculty of Business and Law


Worker Control in Worker Co-operatives? (2015)
Spear, Roger and Thomas, Alan
Journal of Co-operative Studies, 48 No 1(143) (pp. 6-19)

Innovation and Collective Entrepreneurship (2012)
Spear, Roger
Universitas Forum: International Journal on Human Development and International Cooperation, 3(2)

Formes coopératives hybrides (2011)
Spear, Roger
Recma: Revue internationale de l'économie sociale, 320

The governance challenges of social enterprises: evidence from a UK empirical study (2009-06)
Spear, Roger; Cornforth, Chris and Aiken, Michael
Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, 80(2) (pp. 247-273)

Social entrepreneurship: a different model? (2006-05)
Spear, Roger
International Journal of Social Economics, 33(5/6) (pp. 399-410)

Social enterprise for work integration in 12 European countries: a descriptive analysis (2005-06)
Spear, Roger and Bidet, Eric
Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, 76(2) (pp. 195-231)

Governance in democratic member-based organisations (2004-03)
Spear, Roger
Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, 75(1) (pp. 33-60)

Success factors in UK retail co-ops (2003)
Spear, Roger; Aiken, Michael and Newholm, T.
Journal of Co-operative Studies

The Dark side of the moon - unilluminated dimensions of systems practice (2001-12)
Spear, Roger
Systemic Practice and Action Research, 14(6) (pp. 779-790)

The rise and fall of employee-owned UK bus companies (1999)
Spear, Roger
Economic and Industrial Democracy, 20(2) (pp. 253-268)

Developing Successful Worker Co-operatives (1988)
Cornforth, Chris; Thomas, Alan; Spear, Roger and Lewis, Jenny
ISBN : 803980760 | Publisher : Sage Publications Ltd | Published : London

Social enterprise in the UK: Models and trajectories (2021)
Aiken, Mike; Spear, Roger; Lyon, Fergus; Teasdale, Simon; Hazenberg, Richard; Bull, Mike and Kopec Massey, Anna
In: Defourney, Jacques and Nyssens, Marthe eds. Social Enterprise in Western Europe. Routledge Studies in Social Enterprise & Social Innovation (pp. 253-268)
ISBN : 9780429055140 | Publisher : Routledge

Buen Vivir as an Innovative Development Model (2019-07-10)
Morales, Andrés; Spear, Roger; Ngoasong, Michael and Sacchetti, Silvia
In: Banerjee, Swati; Carney, Stephen and Hulgard, Lars eds. People-Centered Social Innovation: Global Perspectives on an Emerging Paradigm
ISBN : 9781351121026 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : New York

Collective social entrepreneurship (2019)
Spear, Roger
In: De Bruin, Anne and Teasdale, Simon eds. A research agenda for social entrepreneurship. Elgar Research Agendas
ISBN : 978-1788972314 | Publisher : Edward Elgar

Public Policy for Social Finance in Context (2015)
Spear, Roger; Paton, Rob and Nicholls, Alex
In: Nicholls, Alex; Paton, Rob and Emerson, Jed eds. Social Finance (pp. 460-487)
ISBN : 9780198703761 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford

Hybridite des co-operatives (2012-01)
Spear, Roger
In: Blanc, Jérôme and Colongo, Denis eds. Les contributions des coopératives à une économie plurielle. Les cahiers de l'économie sociale. Entreprendre autrement
ISBN : 978-2-296-56000-0 | Publisher : L'Harmattan | Published : Paris

Religion and value-driven social entrepreneurship (2010-09-30)
Spear, Roger
In: Hockerts, Kai; Mair, Johanna and Robinson, Jeffrey eds. Values and Opportunities in Social Entrepreneurship
ISBN : 9780230216686 | Publisher : Palgrave | Published : Houndmills, Basingstoke

The governance of hybrid organisations (2010)
Cornforth, Chris and Spear, Roger
In: Billis, David ed. Hybrid Organizations and the Third Sector: Challenges for Practice, Theory and Policy (pp. 70-89)
ISBN : 9780230234635 | Publisher : Palgrave | Published : Basingstoke, UK

Social accounting and social audit in the UK (2010)
Spear, Roger
In: Bouchard, Marie ed. The Worth of the Social Economy : An International Perspective.. Économie sociale & Économie publique / Social Economy & Public Economy (2)
ISBN : 978-90-5201-580-4 | Publisher : Group Editorial Peter Lang

The social economy in Europe: trends and challenges (2010)
Spear, Roger
In: Mook, Laurie; Quarter, Jack and Ryan, Sherida eds. Researching the Social Economy Matters (pp. 84-105)
ISBN : 9780802099532 | Publisher : University of Toronto Press | Published : Toronto

European perspectives on social enterprise (2009)
Spear, Roger
In: Hunter, Paul ed. Social Enterprise for Public Service: How does the Third Sector Deliver? (pp. 38-49)
ISBN : 1 905370 44 X | Publisher : The Smith Institute | Published : London

Social entrepreneurship in co-operatives (2009)
Spear, Roger
In: McPherson, Ian and McLaughlin-Jenkins, Erin eds. Integrating Diversities with a Complex Heritage: Essays in the Field of Co-operative Studies
ISBN : 9781550583656 | Publisher : New Rochdale Press | Published : Victoria, Canada

People’s participation in social entrepreneurship in Denmark (2009)
Spear, Roger; Andersen, Linda Lundgaard and Schott, Thomas
In: Schott, Thomas ed. Social and commercial entrepreneurship in Denmark 2009 (pp. 99-110)
ISBN : 9788791070365 | Publisher : Syddansk Universitet

Organising social enterprises in Denmark (2009)
Schøtt, Thomas; Spear, Roger and Hulgaard, Lars
In: Schøtt, Thomas ed. Social and commercial entrepreneurship in Denmark 2009 (pp. 111-124)
ISBN : 9788791070365 | Publisher : Syddansk Universitet

Cogouvernance collective. Partenariats stratégiques locaux au Royaume-Uni.Community co-governance: local strategic partnerships in the UK (2008)
Spear, Roger
In: Enjolras, Bernard ed. Gouvernance et intérêt général dans les services sociaux et de santé. Économie sociale & Économie publique / Social Economy & Public Economy (1) (pp. 81-106)
ISBN : 978-90-5201-392-3 | Publisher : Peter Lang Editions | Published : Brussels

Social entrepreneurship and the mobilisation of social capital in European social enterprises (2006-09-06)
Spear, Roger and Hulgard, Lars
In: Nyssens, Marthe ed. Social Enterprise: At the crossroads of market, public policies and civil society. Routledge studies in the management of voluntary and non-profit organizations (pp. 85-108)
ISBN : 9780415378789 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Oxford, UK

Social Entrepreneurship: A Nordic Perspective (2016-07-20)
Lundgaard Andersen, Linda; Gawell, Malin and Spear, Roger eds.
Routledge Studies in Social Enterprise and Social Innovation
ISBN : 9781138656260 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon

Trends and challenges for co-operatives and social enterprises in developed and transition countries (2004)
Borzaga, C. and Spear, R. eds.
Publisher : Fondazione Cariplo | Published : Trento, Italy

Tackling social exclusion in Europe: the contribution of the social economy (2001-03)
Spear, Roger; Defourny, Jacques; Favreau, Louis and Laville, Jean-Louis eds.
ISBN : 754613836 | Publisher : Ashgate | Published : UK

Innovation and collective entrepreneurship (2011-10)
Spear, Roger
In : FIESS - International Forum on the Social and Solidarity Economy (17-20 Oct 2011, Montreal)

Understanding diversity in community composting: it's all in the mix (2008-09-16)
Slater, Rachel; Frederickson, James; Murray, Richard; Yoxon, Mark; Paton, Rob and Spear, Roger
In : Waste 2008 Conference: Waste and Resource Management - A Shared Responsibility (16-17 Sep 2008, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK)

Governing social enterprise: emerging challenges and needs (2007)
Cornforth, Chris; Spear, Roger and Aiken, Michael
In : 36th Annual ARNOVA Conference (15-17 Nov 2007, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)

Governance and social enterprise (2007)
Cornforth, Chris; Spear, Roger and Aiken, Michael
In : CIRIEC Research Conference on the Social Economy (Oct 2007, Victoria, Canada)

Cities, the social economy and inclusive growth: a practice review (2017)
Vickers, Ian; Westall, Andrea; Spear, Roger; Brennan, Geraldine and Syrett, Stephen
Joseph Rowntree Foundation, York.

Improving Social Inclusion at the Local Level Through the Social Economy: Report for Slovenia (2010-12-01)
Spear, Roger; Galera, Giulia; Noya, Antonella and Clarence, Emma
OECD Publishing, Paris.

Civil society and the 'commanding heights' the civil economy: past, present, future (2010-03)
Paton, Rob and Spear, Roger
The Carnegie UK Trust, Dunfermline.

For Love and Money: Governance and Social Enterprise (2007-12-12)
Spear, Roger; Cornforth, Chris and Aiken, Mike
National Council for Voluntary Organisations, UK.

National Profiles of Work Integration Social Enterprises: United Kingdom (2002)
Spear, Roger
EMES European Research Network

Trends in Co-operative Development (1993-03)
Newholm, Terry; Spear, Roger and Thomas, Alan
Co-operatives Research Unit, The Open University

Bibliography of Worker Co-op Publications (1990)
Spear, Roger
Co-operatives Research Unit, The Open University