Social Entrepreneurship as a Form of Cross-Border Cooperation: Complementarity in EU Border Regions

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EU border regions continue to face economic and social disadvantages compared to other regions in the same country. Since 1990, the European Commission has been implementing extensive territorial cooperation programs to support EU border regions in solving regional problems and building social cohesion. This study offers a contribution for decreasing the economic and social disadvantages of EU border regions by investigating the complementarity between institutional EU cross-border cooperation and social entrepreneurship. We argue that both concepts build upon similar drivers and characteristics with the aim of creating impact and bringing about change. We test and improve our initially literature-based framework to provide a better insight into how institutional and entrepreneurial processes could benefit from each other. We conduct interviews with experts operating at different governance levels and in various EU countries and border regions. The complementarity between both concepts is confirmed considering a differentiation between governance levels and fields of expertise. The results show that complementarity between the concepts mainly exists in terms of taking advantage of opportunities for a certain effect. The commercial activities of social enterprises are seen as effective, but it is necessary for social enterprises to establish sustainable EU cross-border cooperation and to improve regional social and economic development.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8463
Number of pages23
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2020


  • WORK
  • cross-border cooperation
  • institutional EU
  • local embeddedness
  • social capital
  • social entrepreneurship


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