The Joys and Burdens of Multiple Legal Frameworks for Social Entrepreneurship. Lessons from the Belgian Case
Wim Van Opstal
In the last two decades, several innovative legal frameworks for social entrepreneurship were developed across Europe. The differential success of these innovations raise certain questions. Is the intrinsic design of these legal frameworks optimal for social enterprises? Secondly, is the attractive capacity of these legal frameworks high enough to attract both new as existing social enterprises? And lastly, have these new legal frameworks reached full maturity? If this is not the case, these changes may well impede rather than encourage the development of social enterprises. In this paper, we look at the Belgian situation where an innovative framework was introduced and where multiple legal frameworks for social entrepreneurship coexist. By means of a multi-disciplinary approach involving law and economics, we investigate the joys and burdens of having numerous legal frameworks for social enterprises. We provide an introduction to the Belgian legal environment for social entrepreneurship, and argue that the current institutional design is suboptimal. Finally, we conclude with lessons that can be learned from the Belgian case relevant for other countries and contexts.
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