Successful niche building by social innovation in social economy networks and the potential for societal transformation

Efthymia Amanatidou, Irene-Erifele Tzekou, George Gritzas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As current evolutions make the social economy increasingly visible and important, the paper examines the role of networking in social economy initiatives in strengthening their innovativeness capacities, and, thus, increasing their potential for societal transformation. Our analytical framework reflects the different clusters of networking relations within and outside social economy initiatives, as well as the roles of cognitive frames, skills and capacities, governance, activities, and funding under each of these networking clusters. This analysis is then applied in a particular social economy initiative, Cretamo, a consumers’ cooperative operating a grocery store in Thessaloniki, Greece. The results indicate that Cretamo has developed in the central node of an eco-system of same-minded social enterprises in the agro-food sector, offering an alternative niche to the mainstream economic model. This has changed relations both within the initiative and in its networks, while, at the same time, allows for increased innovativeness capacities. Cretamo has not yet the power to challenge the existing mainstream regime. Yet, it offers a valid alternative niche, which, combined with the socio-economic crisis still experienced in Greece and expected to intensify in the future, creates strong potential for societal transformation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Social Entrepreneurship
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2021


  • Social innovation
  • networking
  • social change
  • social economy
  • social transformation

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Institute of Innovation Research


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