Discussion of social enterprise has increased in developed countries over recent decades, promoted in governments' social and business policies. Social enterprises are defined as businesses with primarily social objectives and an organisational format that uses trading (Dart, 2004). For example, a community shop could be operated by volunteers to provide goods in an area where there is low market demand due to poverty or sparsity of customers. The basis would be its social value and any profit would be deployed primarily to maintain the business rather than paying shareholders or owners. Social enterprises can have additional social, economic or environmental goals, for example employing low-skilled people to provide job experience and/or recycling products, thus addressing environmental issues (Teasdale, 2012). There has been ongoing preoccupation with technically defining social enterprise, aligned with the rise of the new policy concept (Alter, 2007). In this Special Issue, our definition is loose and our concern is with organisations that draw on business models, techniques and practices, and have a social mission (Farmer et al., 2008). For us, social enterprises could include enterprising voluntary organisations, charities, co-operatives and community collectives.