Introducing our latest grantees for research benefitting community businesses

Sophie Reid, manager of Power to Change’s open call for research, introduces the latest projects on ‘good work’ and ‘local-rootedness’

Power to Change has awarded two new research grants for projects exploring ‘good work’ and ‘local-rootedness’. The funding is part of our twice-yearly Open Call for Research, which aims to give life to new research ideas with tangible benefits for the community business sector. Both projects will publish their research reports in 2020.

The first project, proposed jointly by the Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research at Middlesex University and Locality explores good work’ in the community business sector. It examines how community businesses create a good working environment for employees and volunteers while also delivering viable community services and other beneficial impacts in a sector which operates in diverse – and often challenging – contexts.

This qualitative research will involve interviews with leaders, employees and volunteers from ten case study community businesses. The researchers will also use secondary data to understand how payment of the Real Living Wage in the community business sector compares to the wider social enterprise sector. As a result, they will develop a Good Work Toolkit to allow community businesses to benchmark themselves on the quality of their working environment and identify areas for improvement.

Independent researchers Dr Bethany Rex and Dr Katrina Foxton take a closer look at one of the defining characteristics of a community business: being ‘locally-rooted’. Focusing particularly on community businesses involved in the process of community asset transfer, they will examine how ‘local-rootedness’ is embedded and maintained in that context.

The project will explore and share tangible examples of what being ‘locally-rooted’ means in practice and investigate the practical and ethical challenges involved. Community businesses will be invited to participate in creative workshops on the topic, with a strong focus on sharing learning, especially around how ‘local-rootedness’ can be maintained over time. The researchers will also co-design, with project participants, practical tools for the sector to achieve and increase local-rootedness.

How can you get involved?

If you are a community business interested in research, email us to join our directory of community businesses with research interests. Being part of the directory means that researchers can request your details to contact you about taking part in research (including interviews, workshops or being a case study). You will also be sent details of our open calls for research when they go live, so you can apply for research funding directly.

Open calls for research

Twice a year, we run an open call for research grant funding of up to £40,000 that invites organisations to propose high-quality research to benefit the wider community business sector. You can read a couple of our recent open call reports here and here. In future, open calls will be themed, with the next round focusing on volunteering.

Volunteering is at the heart of community businesses’ identities, as well as their business models. It’s estimated that there are four volunteers for every employee within the sector, and this ratio is much higher in some sub-sectors. If you have a research idea around volunteering with a tangible benefit for community businesses, look out on social media and the Power to Change newsletter for our next round of open call funding in January 2020.

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