BENGO, I., ARENA, M. (2019). The relationship between small and medium-sized social enterprises and banks. International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, January 2019, International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management 68(2) DOI:10.1108/IJPPM-02-2018-0066
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to perform a critical analysis of the relationship between small- and medium-sized social enterprises (SMSEs) and banks. Based on the conceptual framework for the analysis of SME’s credit availability developed by Berger and Udell (2006), this study aims to contribute to the current debate in two ways: first, outlining the characteristics of the lending technologies currently used by banks and financial institutions to evaluate SMSEs when they apply for credit; and second, discussing, based on the results of the empirical analysis, the coherence of these systems from the social ecosystem perspective and identifying areas for possible improvement. Design/methodology/approach The paper develops a conceptual framework based on the model proposed by Berger and Udell (2006), which defines the characteristics of lending technologies that banks use to evaluate SMEs, and applies it to the case of SMSEs. To study the interplay of these lending technologies, the empirical analysis is based on a case study of five Italian banks. Data are collected from multiple sources to capture key dimensions of the problems analyzed. Findings The paper provides empirical insight about the relationship between SMSEs and banks. The Italian case shows that the current lending infrastructure must be revised to support SMSE credit availability, and government policies affect the national financial institution structure. The relationship between SMSEs and Italian banks remains underdeveloped. Social implications The research supports the scaling up of social business. Originality/value This paper fulfills an identified need to study how social enterprises credit access can be enabled.