Archive for the ‘Social capital’ Category

Are local councils game to support community clubs?

January 31, 2012

We are in the middle of a fascinating political play. Thinking Australians agree that the influence of poker machines is way too large. But the club associations representing the thousands of clubs acrossAustraliaare leading them like lemmings over the cliff. And the politicians kowtowing to such political pressure should hang their heads in shame.

What hasn’t been sufficiently stressed in the debate is that private companies and individuals should not be able to profit from poker machines. If you want to donate $50 every Friday night to the pokies, then it should only be in properly constituted clubs. And these clubs should be mandated to spend those revenues on local jobs, exercise and health facilities, Meals on Wheels, subsidised entertainment and food for pensioners and the like. Not some random donations like at present.

The reason why the benefits of “community gaming” have not been debated is because the Productivity Commission refused to accept the argument that there should be no poker machines in pubs. The PC chose this path either because of its unrelenting faith in competitive neutrality dogma, or because it was too hard, or – dare I say it – because of political pressure.

Let’s be clear. There is NO rationale for poker machines to finance a publican’s Mercedes or school fees, or indeed the bottom lines of supermarket chains – the biggest of which reportedly operates over 13,000 machines.

If this rationale was understood and accepted, community clubs could better perform the community functions for which they were established. Community clubs across the nation could recapture their former role as social support hubs. But it must involve a New Deal – namely that clubs would commit to the bulk of the surplus (after allowances for depreciation and capital improvements) going to community facilities.

However taking pokies away from the private sector will be political suicide if the Gillard Government cannot counter the scare tactics of the clubs industry and sell it to the wider electorate. The States will also have to be assured that they will save money by pokies revenue going towards disadvantaged individuals and families and to community infrastructure.

A phased removal of licences from the private sector would be required – possibly over a 10 year timeframe to enable investors to recoup their money. There are precedents e.g. the phasing out of tariff quotas and associated licences.

To sum up, my concern is that the Gillard Government is only thinking on one level – namely to rein in the amount going into pokies and to minimise the harm. The other level is to ensure that the amount coming out of pokies is channelled in the right direction. This issue must be considered and local councils must get off their collective backsides to make it happen. Less than ten councils made a submission to the Productivity Commission e.g. Greater Dandenong,CoffsHarbour,Fairfield, Hume,MacedonRanges, Maribyrnong, Moreland andWattleRanges. They are to be commended.

Are you game to support your community clubs vis-à-vis the hotel industry, and to mix it with the feds and state governments?


OECD promotes social enterprises (BEST PRACTICE)

May 9, 2010

Government agencies around the world are grappling with the problem of creating jobs for at-risk groups. The primary cause is that labour-shedding has escalated in the last few years. The driver is the corporations ruthlessly reviewing all operations to protect their shareholder values.

A side effect has been the emergence of the social enterprise sector i.e. non-profit organizations that generate revenue to finance their social mission viz. employing disadvantaged people, creating career paths for youths, running mentoring programs, caring for the homeless and needy.

In some countries, the tax-free status of religious organizations and philanthropic agencies has helped, and mega-capitalists (Gates, Branson, Forrest) are stepping in with open cheque books. But most corporations and institutional investors are only willing to fund social enterprises within tightly defined corporate limits.

The LEED Group (OECD – edited by Antonella Noya) has just released a very valuable report, “The Changing Boundaries of Social Enterprises” (270 pages), that explores this increasingly important field. For example, it canvasses specific policy measures that could be supported by governments at different levels to facilitate the integration of social enterprises into the economy e.g.

  • Fiscal incentives to attract investors e.g. tax credits, subsidies.
  • Public procurement measures based on socio-environmental criteria.
  • Public-private community partnerships.
  • Financial advice, labour market training for employees as well as social finance intermediaries.

Angles for Cockatoo members

We reckon there is a huge gap in our collective understanding of how social enterprises can be nurtured. The OECD study is a great first step – we need more analysis and policy development. If you agree, contact us and we’ll work out how we might stimulate things.

Are YOU a social entrepreneur?

March 19, 2009


Former WA Industry Minister Mal Bryce has introduced us (via Peter Kenyon) to an amazing book on social entrepreneurs entitled “The Power of Unreasonable People” by John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan. (Harvard Business Press 2008) Sub titled “How social entrepreneurs create markets that change the world.”


The book describes Social Entrepreneurs as people who:


1.     Shrug off ideology and regulation

2.     Focus on practical solutions

3.     Innovate

4.     Do social value creation and SHARE

5.     Jump in without waiting for back-up

6.     Have unwavering beliefs in innate capacity of others

7.     Have dogged determination

8.     Demonstrate real passion for change

9.     Have a great deal to teach change makers in other sectors

10.  Have a healthy impatience (don’t do well in bureaucracies)

India’s business schools focus on social entrepreneurship

October 17, 2008


Business schools in India are introducing initiatives to merge the needs of the corporate world with those of non-governmental organizations.


It follows a summit on entrepreneurship at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, which outlined the importance of social entrepreneurs as agents of change in society. Initiatives have been launched, including the development of the infrastructure of small villages via education.


Go to

Corporate Philanthropy – what works

March 18, 2008

The Kauffman Foundation in the US has referred us to a survey by McKinsey & Co. in respect to global corporate philanthropy.

MCKinsey says the aims are of most corporations involved in philanthropy are similar – to enhance the corporate image and brand, build employee leadership, enhance employee recruitment and retention.

The most effective corporate efforts align their philanthropy with social/political trends relevant to their business. Top-quality programs also emphasize collaboration with other corporate partners, other philanthropists, community groups etc.

(The corporate sector in A/NZ is notoriously stingy. Anyone know the reasons? Less advantageous tax treatment? No Bill Gates role models?  – Editor)

Go to “The State of Corporate Philanthropy.”

Internet and Social Networks

October 16, 2007

When the Internet first took off, some observers feared that it would contribute to a further weakening of social ties. “Bowling Alone” would be replaced by “Web-surfing Alone.”

A new study from the Pew Internet and American Life project indicates these early fears were unfounded.  The report, The Strength of Internet Ties, finds that the Internet is helping to build social capital. A new form of community, “networked individualism,” is arising. Via “networked individualism,” people no longer need to rely on a single community for social capital. Instead, they can reach out to different people and communities for different situations. Through email, individuals can maintain close contacts with a much larger and more diverse network.

Survey respondents lauded the Internet’s role in helping them connect with other people, get needed information, and make important decisions. In fact, 60 million Americans reportedly have used the Internet when making a major life decision, such as issues around health care for loved ones, pursuing an education, or changing careers.  


Source: National Dialogue on Entrepreneurship.

Collaborator profile – Mick O’Neill (Adelaide)

October 15, 2007

 Mick truly is the Godfather of clustering in SA. He brought in Doug Henton and Kim Walesh of Collaborative Economics (Palo Alto), and the three of them laid the groundwork.   

Who and where are you? I am Director of Economic Analysis and Policy with the Department of Trade and Economic Development in South Australia. Over the past decade I pioneered cluster development in South Australia – leveraging and adapting the Collaborative Economics model of industry leadership and engagement to foster collaboration ( ) – and played a lead role in SA Business Vision 2010, a collaborative initiative engaging business, government, university and community leaders in the economic rejuvenation of South Australia.

 What is your job? My role is to develop the economic development framework for the State and champion policy responses that will eliminate impediments for business, drive economic competitiveness and assist companies to leverage new opportunities emerging through exciting growth in the mineral resources, defence, advanced manufacturing, ICT, biotechnology and international education sectors.  

What is exciting you at present? The economic transition underway in South Australia which is driving convergence between the economic growth agenda and the social inclusion agenda as we move from the challenge of ‘finding jobs for people’ to the high quality problem of ‘finding people for jobs’. I am now particularly focused on workforce issues, especially promoting pathways to science, engineering and technology careers, including stimulating increased study of maths and science in schools. 

Top 3 tips for collaboration 1.       Enlightened self-interest remains the driver – commercial imperatives and opportunities will prevail over altruism or collaboration as an ideology.2.       Collaboration is a social process – a contact sport. It is all about people and relationships. Collaborative projects around non-competitive agendas such as workforce, infrastructure etc allow people to mix, build rapport and trust and explore potential to work together commercially.3.       Active facilitation and availability of legal/commercial tools and processes make it easier and remove some of the mystique around commercial collaboration – but they don’t eliminate the people issues.; +61 8 8303 2400

Social capital likened to cholesterol

October 15, 2007

European researcher, Dr. Mikel Landabso, has written extensively on social capital, and he recently asked whether it can be likened to cholesterol.

Can there be good bad types in terms of economic development? He suggests the bad type prevents regional innovation and creativity, and fosters “defensive” conservative values and parochial attitudes in an ever increasing globalised economy. Clientelist governments, corporatists attitudes in business associations, “guild”-type industry approaches and short-sighted protectionist policies and barriers might be part of it. The good type – the “bridging and linking” type – facilitates proactive adaptation via coalitions of partners, sharing common visions, pooling resources and exploiting synergies.

The initiatives might include:
§          Strategic planning exercises which are open, transparent and inclusive
§          Institutions that provide environments for interaction (networks, clusters etc.)
§          Promotion of a shared can-do culture with mechanisms that foster innovation and creativity.
§          Supporting public-private partnerships.
§          Raising awareness about collective challenges. 

His analogy of bad cholesterol exhibited via defensive values and parochial attitudes is a good one.

Mikel’s writings are freely available on the web. If you cannot find the article, please contact us.

‘Current models of globalisation not working’ says Bob Brown

January 17, 2006

Bob Brown (no relation) is a former CSIRO division chief, now tracking S&T and development issues for the MuNet network. His recent editorial is worthy of serious reflection… 

Notwithstanding all the technological developments, human skills and human frailties remain at the heart of all industry. Human ingenuity conceives and refines products and processes.

 Human needs, desires and persuasion skills establish the market for the goods produced. Political, social and economic constructs determine if the manufacturing enterprise (or parts of it) will be profitable and sustainable. In the 1970’s there was considerable emphasis on robotics, automation and flexible manufacturing systems, leading to a proposed utopia of the “lights out factory”.

Since then attention has concentrated on just-in-time manufacture and, in the last decade, attention has focused on LEAN manufacture – the minimalist approach to all elements of production and management. These and other management methodologies are all fine, but the bottom line is to pay attention to what we are manufacturing and why. We are in danger of going into the ridiculous situation of making products obsolete almost as soon as they are marketed and releasing products that are obscene in their size, performance and cost – recognising that a large part of the world’s population lives in subsistence conditions. 

I have a vision that globalisation will lead to closer cooperation between industrialists, researchers, decision makers and the community for the benefit of the world’s population. Current models of globalisation and the instruments of global control – World Bank, IMF etc. – seem incapable of reshaping “Market Forces” to achieve this vision. In fact, internationally and within most nations there is a growing disparity between rich and poor.  

I don’t have any simple solutions, apart from a need for people to go back to basics and consider human values and aspirations. People often seem to expend huge amounts of energy (their own and non-renewable resources of the planet) on trivial and pointless activities.

It is here that manufacturers and researchers can surely provide some rational advice and guidance for a more sensible resolution of the problems facing the world. Weapon manufacture is unlikely to bring rational development; armies are not going to bring peace; irrational or fundamental religious beliefs will divide people into bitter enemies. You might silence opposition by punching an opponent in the face, but this is unlikely to convince him/her of the correctness of your case. 

‘Good guy’ companies targeted in UK

February 24, 2004

Peter Morris of Telesis Consulting, Perth WA, has forwarded a fascinating item dealing with bridging the financial-social divide: 

The East of England Development Agency is backing an innovative scheme where companies and individuals can support their local communities.

It is the brainchild of East of England Community Capital (EECC) that looks for individuals/corporations to help with neighbourhood regeneration. It is a regionally-defined fund and aims to be self-sustaining rather than profit-making. It is part of ICOF Community Capital (industrial and provident society) EECC attracts investments from people and organisations with a social conscience – in the £250 – £20,000 range.  

Spokesman Andrew Hibbert says “Any investments should be seen as sponsoring an ethical cause, with a priority for people…money raised is lent to obtain social and environmental benefit as well as a modest return for the investor. A recent similar share issue involving EECC exceeded expectations and was supported by Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Patricia Hewitt.

Backers will see, in the companies in which they invest, real gratitude and appreciation…by participating in a share issue, investors see first hand how their contribution can benefit their neighbourhood.”  “Businesses considered to be fundamental to combating social exclusion, with EECC investment, can thrive…one local company that has already benefited is Daily Bread Cooperative, in Cambridge and Northampton.

Director Mark Osbourn says “The ICOF loan we received provided much-needed working capital to enable us to get off the ground. We were then able to utilise disadvantaged people in a range of roles – office administration, selling in the shops, packing food, operating forklift trucks. Their efforts have helped us to pay off the loan some years ago. We have some private investors in Daily Bread Cooperative and we want to encourage more to invest in us…we now have plans potentially to buy a freehold property as we expand and as our lease runs out.” 

See or