This research has studied two circular community enterprises (CCEs) in the Netherlands with the aim to explore how the antecedents social capital, leadership, organizational capacity, and government support influence the social impact-scaling efforts. Transitioning towards a circular built environment requires the adoption of a business model that incorporates environmental, economic and social logics, which create a complex and unique business climate for CEs that also aim to create local community value. Even though the context can be discouraging for community entrepreneurs, the CCE applies strategies that enable them to be sustainable and increase their impact. By employing a mixed-method research approach, this study gained insights into the importance of the various driving factors for scaling impact, and the ways in which these organizations adopt scaling strategies. The contributions of this research are threefold. Firstly, a conceptualization of CCEs was formulated, which distinguishes the organizations based on their aim to stimulate community development by embracing circularity principles in their commercial undertakings and engaging their customers as personas that contribute to closing, slowing down or narrowing the loop of resources or regenerate natural capital. Secondly, the scaling strategies of CCEs were explored, which demonstrated clear ambitions to alter culture, norms and values of community members and other relevant actors through the application of ‘thought leadership’ and ‘leading by example’. Lastly, the importance of the driving factors social capital, leadership, organizational capacity and government support on scaling the organization’s social impact was delved into. Here, it was found that all four factors are important, as they contribute in their own way. Social capital enforces collaboration, networking and exposure. Leadership is fundamental through the adoption of bricoleurship, ability to take risks, mobilization of commitment, and networking skills of the community entrepreneur. Organizational capacity contributes as the formulation of strategic plan, recruitment of enough and good staff, and security of enough income provides a fertile soil for scaling impact. Government support provides the necessary funding, knowledge and trust for scaling social impact, which is especially vital in the start-up phase when applying for permits and searching for start-up capital.

Dr. Carley Pennink, Dr. ir. Jasper Eshuis
Public Administration
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Arjan van Dorsselaer. (2022, August 3). Scaling Social Impact of Circular Community Enterprises. Public Administration. Retrieved from