New paper on participatory local governance and social enterprise

As part of our commitment to co-production, Jam and Justice Action Research Collective members had access to a personal knowledge exchange and impact budget to support institutional and sectoral learning and take findings back into different worlds of work and life.

Jez Hall drew on his allowance to develop a new research paper entitled “Participatory local governance and social enterprise: exploring the links between social entrepreneurial behaviour and democratic resource allocation through participatory budgeting”, co-authored by Jez and Dr Matt MacDonald of Manchester Metropolitan University and co-director of Shared Future CIC. Building on learning and encouragement through the Jam and Justice programme and their own previous professional work, the abstract was shared with Dr Liz Richardson, who provided additional advice, and developed during Spring 2019. This was with the specific intention of presenting it at the 7th EMES International Research Network Conference on Social Enterprise at Sheffield University, held between the 20th and 24th July 2019, within the thematic strand “Social enterprise as a site for radical forms of democracy, participation and action“. Based on a longitudinal review of participatory budgeting experiences, a small number of focus group style conversations and comparative desktop research, the paper concluded “that while there is evidence of clear and demonstrable benefits to adopting a PB approach in the support of local social economy initiatives, including the development of social enterprises and cooperative models of working, unless that was the specific intention of the programme, these benefits are not predictable.” Jez Hall presented the finished paper at the conference and attended other sessions running that week. From many similar submissions the paper was chosen as one of only 19 selected conference papers, available to download at

Covering key themes within the Jam and Justice project, the topic was the role of participatory processes in developing new co-operatives and social enterprises, and was aimed at stimulating future research into the role of innovative uses of public funds for co-producing ‘the commons’. The paper has since be disseminated widely around Greater Manchester’s Social Enterprise leaders. It has also stimulated new conversations within the international participatory budgeting community, with a comment by a Brazilian participatory practitioner “this is one of the less studied but one of the more important outcomes from participatory experiences.” Shared Future CIC has the intention to build on the findings, and conduct further research if possible. Jez reported that the paper would not have been produced and presented without the opportunity to attend the conference, which, being a non-academic without the financial support of a university, would have entailed prohibitive registration fees.