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Social Entrepreneurship: How can Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure (THL) social enterprises utilise community engagement to enhance societal impact? (FUNDED)

This is a fully funded project

Social enterprises (SEs) are businesses whose primary goal is to generate positive social impact and are recognised as an important part of an entrepreneurial ecosystem. Recently, there has been significant growth of social enterprises in the tourism, hospitality, and leisure (THL) industries where they typically foster collaboration, solidarity, pluralism, and sustainability leading to both economic and community development. Whilst SEs play an important role in social innovation many remain invisible and not well known and demonstrating their societal impact remains a challenge. Community engagement (CE) may be understood as one of the main processes through which social enterprises achieve societal impact.

Whilst there is an increasing recognition of the importance of community engagement in the development of social enterprises (Johanson and Mattsson, 2015; Satar and John, 2016, Borzaga et al, 2020), the study of community engagement in social entrepreneurship remains at an infancy stage. Moreover, despite the emergence of frameworks to support organisations in understanding and assessing their community engagement (e.g., higher education (O’Brien et al, 2021), to date the academic literature provides little evidence of frameworks to support social enterprises in understanding their engagement with communities. The goal of this research study is to review the key dimensions and empirical findings of social enterprise community engagement within THL industries.

There is much debate on the measurement of social return on investment (SROI) for social enterprises, with concerns that existing methods are challenging, complex and time consuming (Millar and Hall, 2014). Social enterprises by their nature often have limited ability to provide evidence of social and economic impact (O’Hara and O’Shaughnessy, 2021). The development of a holistic framework to support social enterprises in reflecting upon their community engagement presents a potential alternative to existing methods and a novel opportunity to progress the CE agenda in the study of social entrepreneurship.

2.1 Hons Degree in a relevant discipline e.g. Business, Tourism, Hospitality, Social Sciences

Masters in a relevant discipline e.g. Business, Tourism, Hospitality, Social Science

Prior study of entrepreneurship

Excellent research and writing ability, and a proven ability to engage in self-directed learning.

Funding Agency: TU Dublin School of Tourism and Hospitality Management
Student Stipend per annum: €18,500
Materials & Travel Budget per annum: €2,600
Duration of Funding: 48 month
Research Fees: Covered for 4 years

Register your interest

Dr. Emma O'Brien and Dr. Ziene Mottiar

Award Level


Mode of Study

Full Time

Funding Details


Deadline to Submit Applications

13th January 2023