2017-2018 / GEST3035-1

Economie sociale : théories et pratiques


30h Th

Number of credits

 Master in economics : general (120 ECTS)5 crédits 
 Master in management (120 ECTS)5 crédits 


Jacques Defourny

Language(s) of instruction

French language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the first semester, review in January

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

This course analyses the economic realities which are part of what is more and more frequently called the "third sector", i.e. a sector which is distinct from the traditional private sector and from the public sector. The third sector mainly brings together enterprises belonging to the co-operative movement, mutual organisations and above all activities with an economic relevance carried out by associations (formal non-profit organisations, on the one hand, and informal associations, on the other hand). These realities are often poorly understood from an economic point of view although they represent a significant part of employment in industrialised countries. In a different way but even more importantly, they are also crucial and bear great hopes in developing economies where they are generally rooted in local communities and prove to be crucial in LDCs where the public sector has decreased a lot and the formal private sector is concentrated in profitable industries and areas. In order to apprehend these realities, which are often poorly known and whose importance is usually strongly undervalued, different types of approaches are used complementarily: approaches based on the concept of the social economy, and those based on the notion of "non-profit organizations" (NPOs). Various approaches were forged during last decades to seize and analyze specificities of such organizations. Among these analytical frameworks, the concept of social economy took a particular importance to stress that the major stake is often to make live a true company by putting it at the service of a social mission.

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

In compliance with the Objectives and Intended Key Learning Outcomes of the Specialized Master in Management, and more specifically of the option "Social enterprise management", the course should enable students:

  • To gain the knowledge and understanding of the specific field of Social Economy/Entrepreneurship. They should be able to identify the contributions and limitations of the different conceptual grids developed to understand the "third sector" of our economies,
  • To understand the complementarity of these approaches and to learn how to combine them for a better understanding of the realities observed,
  • To promote a dialogue between European and American appoaches to social entreprise and social entrepreneurship,
  • To develop their abilities for professional team work and their critical sense,
  • To develop their research and methodological abilities with a view to solving complex problems related to social entrepreneurship.
This course contributes to the following Intended Learning Outcomes :
ILO-2 : Gaining the knowledge and understanding of one of the proposed fields of concentration or to gain deep knowledge in the field of the management being already specialized thru a first University Master Degree . 
ILO-5 : Integrate autonomously researched information, tools, knowledge and context to build and propose, either individually or as part of a team, original, creative and viable solutions to concrete complex management problems, whether real or simulated, taking into account, when necessary, the human, social and legal context.
ILO-9 : Developing a critical sense (arguing)
ILO-10 : Developing a transversal, global vision 
ILO-11 : Creative conception of solutions
ILO-14 : Faced with a management problem, suggesting solutions that are ethical and socially responsible and that respect the principles of good governance.

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

General political economy course and if possible a microeconomic analysis course.

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

Mode of delivery (face-to-face ; distance-learning)

The first part of the course presents the different conceptual and analytical approaches. The second part is devoted to the presentation of papers written by groups of students on specific themes or fields of activity (one paper per hour). Each presentation is followed by the paper's discussion by another group of students, introducing a general debate.The team work should enable students to develop a transversal and global vision, and to communicate through written and oral submissions, along with the attitudes defined as part of the "Objectives and Intended Key Learning Outcomes" of the Specialized Master in Management.

Recommended or required readings

Recommended reading: J. Defourny & M. Nyssens (eds), Economie Sociale et Solidaire - Socioéconomie du 3e secteur, De Boeck Supérieur, Bruxelles et Paris, 2017.
A set of books will be "banked" and made available to the students at he Documentation Center of CIRIEC (building B33, 2nd floor).The course will make extensive use of the virtual interfaces LOl@ and ecampus. On these interfaces LOl@ and ecampus, students can find:

  • Powerpoint presentations of the various sessions,
  • a reading portfolio with the articles related to each meeting,
  • the joint papers written by students to be presented and discussed.

Assessment methods and criteria

The evaluation will combine four elements:

  • the quality of written work (30% of the final grade),
  • the quality of oral presentation (20% of the final grade),
  • the quality of the discussion of another group's work (10% of the final grade),
  • participation in debates (bonus),
  • an oral examination for the critical use of the different grids (40% of the final grade).

Work placement(s)

Organizational remarks


Teacher: Prof. J. DEFOURNY (Sart-Tilman, building B33, second floor, office 2.10). Email: J.Defourny@ulg.ac.be
Teaching assistant: Olivier BROLIS (B33, office 2.11) Email: olivier.brolis@uclouvain.be Tel. : 04 366 30 43