EMES is a research network of established university research centres and individual researchers whose goal is to gradually build up a European corpus of theoretical and empirical knowledge, pluralistic in disciplines and methodology, around “third sector” issues.
EMES has existed since 1996, when an international group of scholars formed a research network that had been sponsored by the European Union. Having reached an unusual level of mutual understanding, trust and a common perspective of working together, a community of researchers sprang off from this working experience.
Formally established as a non-profit association (ASBL under Belgian law) in 2002 and named after its first research programme, on “the emergence of social enterprises in Europe”, EMES nevertheless concerns itself with broader matters, defining the “third sector” in broad ways.
EMES has thirteen institutional members, located in ten different European countries, which are among the most well-known research centres on social enterprise and related issues. EMES institutional members are core to the functioning of the network, both as leaders of collective research projects and as hosts of major EMES events, such as the International Research Conferences on Social Enterprise.