• comparative social policy;
  • policy design;
  • social construction;
  • social enterprise;
  • third sector;
  • South Korea;
  • United Kingdom

Taking the elusive definition of social enterprise as its starting point, this study seeks to understand the impact of government policies on the development of social enterprises in the national contexts of the UK and South Korea. The social construction of target populations is utilised as a theoretical framework in order to identify which factors influence government policy. A comparison of the two countries over a 14-year period from 1997 to 2010 reveals that, despite very different contexts, governments in both countries have taken an instrumental approach to social enterprise. This tendency is more pronounced in Korea however, where government has limited the input of stakeholders and used an approval system to control access to the social enterprise name. The study concludes by recommending a more value-oriented approach to social enterprise.