Toby Johnson
21 January 2015

The Andalusian School of Social Economy (Escuela de Economía Social)

The Escuela de Economía Social (Social Economy School) was established as a foundation in 2002 by CEPES-Andalucía, the representative body of the social economy in Andalusia. It is located in a restored convent in Osuna, a small town in the centre of Andalusia. It is explicitly mentioned as a priory in the third Andalusian Pact for the Social Economy.

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It offers a wide variety of short courses for managers, the staff of social economy representative organisations and public officials. The two principal courses are:

  • FIDES Directivos y Directivas (FIDES Managers) is a sort of mini-MBA targeted at senior managers in social economy enterprises. But it also accepts students from the public sector, which serves to build bonds and a partnership approach. It is delivered as a blended leaning programme including 14 two-day residential units;
  • FIDES Emprende (FIDES Start-up) is targeted at newly-established businesses and entrepreneurs with a viable business idea.

Apart from the direct learning outcomes, the training also builds collaborative structures such as consortia among social economy enterprises. In addition, the mixture of students from social enterprises and the public sector helps to build an ecosystem which is friendly to the social economy.

The training is funded largely from national/regional sources, as EU structural funding is mainly destined for existing employees.

Lessons of the social economy school in Andalusia

  • Management education is a key part of the social enterprise ecosystem. In Andalusia, social economy policy is firmly entrenched in a neo-corporatist institutional model;
  • Well-targeted training measures result from the coproduction of policy which is an outcome of an ongoing process of dialogue between the public authorities and social economy representative organisations;
  • If ESF funding is to be used to support such training, the operational programmes should provide for this;
  • Uses a blended learning approach, including residential sessions, helps to build business alliances;
  • A mix of social economy and public sector students facilitates partnership building and a friendly ecosystem;
  • Replication of the school would depend on having a partnership between the social economy and the public administration, a political consensus, direct stakeholder involvement and suitability for the local political culture.