Denny, S., Hazenberg, R., Irwin, W. and Seddon, F. A. (2011) Social enterprise and the individual: an examination of a work-integration social enterprise (WISE) and its impact upon unemployed university graduate’s self-efficacy and attitudes to enterprise. Paper presented to: Fifteenth Annual Conference of the International Research Society for Public Management (IRSPM XV), Trinity College, Dublin, 11-13 April 2011.
Denny, S., Hazenberg, R., Irwin, W. and Seddon, F. A.
Over the last two decades the failure of traditional work-integration measures to significantly reduce unemployment has led to a rise in the number of WISEs. Borzaga and Loss (2006) reported that WISE interventions had a beneficial impact upon the personal, social and employment skills of those individuals that they engaged. However, such research has so far only measured vaguely defined personal characteristics and more detailed analysis of the individual benefits of WISE interventions are required (Aiken, 2007). Prior psychological research has demonstrated that individuals with elevated levels of self-efficacy will accomplish higher educational achievements and have improved career prospects (Bandura 1977, 1997; Lent et al., 1991). Additionally, Delmar & Davidson (2000) report that self-efficacy has been shown by previous research to be an important component in self-employment as a career choice and thus as an indicator of a positive attitude to enterprise (ATE). This paper reports the results of a longitudinal study that examined a WISE in Northamptonshire cooperating with a local university in order to re-integrate unemployed graduates into the labour-market. The intervention combined studying a Masters level business module and engaging in a work placement, which together were designed to raise participant self-efficacy and ATE. Results reveal the impact of the intervention on participant levels of self-efficacy and ATE. The authors propose that robust and rigorous analysis of the potential positive impacts of WISE interventions utilising relevant academic instruments is important in order to demonstrate the benefits of WISE interventions to policy-makers