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Authors 34 – Nicoletta Buratti – Community enterprise, community entrepreneurship and local development: a literature review on three decades of empirical studies and theorizations

This paper reviews the literature on community enterprises (CEs), i.e. organizations that engage in commercial activity and operate for the development of a local community by bringing economic, social, and environmental benefits. In the face of widespread recognition of the positive role they play in impoverished territories, there is no general agreement on their very nature and the type of underlying entrepreneurship. Through a systematic review of CE literature, referred to the period 1990–2020, our paper aims to provide an extensive background of issues related to CEs, their specificities, the kind of entrepreneurship they rely on, their role in local development. In addition, we try to outline their liabilities and the main challenges they face, intending to delineate implications for future research on the issue. Beyond descriptive analytics, results highlight the main research topics of CEs, as well as multiple challenges that connect researchers and practitioners interested in the topic. Given the role of CEs in the regeneration of places and communities, our study also highlights the need for research to incorporate broader analytical perspectives that simultaneously examine both the barriers faced by CEs in these contexts and the factors that may sustain them.

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