Jumped or pushed: what motivates NHS staff to set up a social enterprise?

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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the motivations behind public sector spin outs, focusing on the Right to Request policy, which enabled NHS staff to set up their own social enterprises to deliver healthcare services.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper draws on empirical data gathered from 16 in-depth interviews with individuals who had led a Right to Request proposal.

Findings – Motivations to spin out of the NHS into a social enterprise were often “empathetic” in nature, built around the good of the service for staff and users. Alongside this, some felt “pushed” out of the NHS as a result of government restructuring policy, with social enterprise offering the only hope to survive as an organisation.

Research limitations/implications – The study captures a particular point in time and there may be other perspectives that have not been included.

Social implications – The paper is of use to academics, policy makers and practitioners. It provides an important contribution in thinking about how to motivate public sector staff, especially those from a health profession, to consider spinning out into social enterprises.

Originality/value – The paper is the first to look at the motivations of healthcare spin outs through the Right to Request programme. The findings are related to previous literature on social entrepreneurship within public sector settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-62
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Enterprise Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Social enterprise
  • Social entrepreneurship
  • Motivation
  • Spin out
  • Public sector
  • Health
  • Policy
  • National Health Service
  • Health services
  • United Kingdom.


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