Two new Working Papers by SOCENT researchers Marek Hudon and Katarzyna Cieslik available on-line

Community Currencies and Sustainable Development: A Systematic Review”, by Arnaud Michel and SOCENT professor Marek Hudon (ULB), and “Unruly Entrepreneurs - Value Creation and Value Capture by Microfinance Clients in Rural Burundi”, by SOCENT researchers Katarzyna Cieslik and Marek Hudon (ULB) and by Philip Verwimp, have been published in the series of CERMi-CEB Working Papers (WP 15-012 and WP 15-013 respectively); they are now available on the SOCENT website.

The first of these two papers will be published in a slightly revised version in Ecological Economics. It offers a very good example of the “cross-fertilization” generated by the IAP-SOCENT programme, as its methodology was inspired by a research carried out with similar methodology on another theme by the VUB IAP-SOCENT team.

Abstract of “Community Currencies and Sustainable Development: A Systematic Review”:

Community or complementary currency systems have spread all around the world. Most often, they have been promoted as tools to foster sustainable development albeit they differ in terms of specific objectives. While many case studies have tried to assess the actual impact of these systems, there has been no global analysis summarizing their global impact.

This paper aims to fill the gap by exploring whether complementary currencies contribute to the three pillars of sustainable development. The authors use the systematic review methodology on an original dataset gathering most academic publications published on the topic in English, French and Spanish. Their main findings suggest that community currencies mostly contribute to social sustainability, and that their economic benefits are somewhat limited due to their small scale and the lack of awareness on their scope. Moreover, very few studies explicitly identified environmental outcomes. Finally, this review reveals some limits regarding current methods for impact assessment in this field. Therefore it encourages more standardisation to provide greater accuracy and strengthen the legitimacy of community currencies in order to foster their continued development.

Abstract of “Unruly Entrepreneurs - Value Creation and Value Capture by Microfinance Clients in Rural Burundi”:

This study explores the social entrepreneurial potential of the rule-breaking practices of microfinance programs’ beneficiaries. The authors empirically apply the positive theory of social entrepreneurship that views social entrepreneurship as a pursuit of neglected positive externalities. Using the storyboard methodology, the paper examines the strategies employed by the poor in Burundi to bypass institutional rules. The authors argue that illicit practices can in fact be interpreted as value-creating entrepreneurial acts and be symptomatic of an emergent social-entrepreneurial orientation. The findings cast a spotlight on issues of agency and empowerment, questioning and contextualizing the definition of social value.