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The role of small-scale social enterprises in the Swedish integration system – opportunities and challenges

Conference contribution
Authors Helena Kraff
Eva Maria Jernsand
Published in 2019 Organizing Migration and Integration in Contemporary Societies - OMICS, 6-8 November, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
Publication year 2019
Published at School of Design and Crafts
Centre for Tourism
Department of Business Administration, Marketing Group
Mistra Urban Futures
Language en
Subject categories International Migration and Ethnic Relations


The purpose of this paper is to explore the role of small-scale social enterprises in the Swedish integration system. Particularly, it focuses on how the overall integration system affects their possibilities to organize labour market integration programs, and how participants of these programs experience them in relation to other activities for integration. This is done through the analysis of a longitudinal and qualitative action research study. There are opportunities related to the small size of the organizations, since it enables the establishment of a close relationship between staff and program participants. There is, for example, time for informal discussions in Swedish, which the participants do not experience as possible in the official Swedish for immigrants (SFI) program. The small size also makes it possible to give devoted participants responsibilities that further their capabilities and heightens their confidence. Challenges include issues of coordination between stakeholders in the integration system, leading to activities colliding with each other regarding both time and content. Social enterprises also face altered political conditions and experience miscommunication, which affect them from economic and human resources points of views. From the part of participants, there is a risk that they lose focus and the ability to follow the logic of the programs they attend. The exploration indicates that small-scale social enterprises play important roles in the integration system. However, there are hindrances built into their organizational form and the system, which prevents them from developing programs and activities that fit the needs of immigrants.

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