Many countries are developing new strategies for assuring, despite expenses cutting, a good level in public services delivering. In most cases the solution is searched through the implementation of policies aiming at extending and reinforcing citizens’ direct contribution. This aspect has some peculiarities in Italy where, on one hand, the necessity to meet EU standards forced last governments to heavy cutbacks in public spending, and, on the other hand, there is not such a great tradition in line with co-production theories and/or the idea of Big Society. In order to look at how Italy is framing its policies within this ‘new’ framework, it has been analysed (through quantitative data) the role of social enterprises as created after the enactment of Decree 155/2006 which represents the fourth and last reform in the Italian social policy system. Dimensions, legal forms, number of employees, sectors of activity have been analysed. Results show that 685 social enterprises have been created in the last five years in Italy, the majority of them being locally based small enterprises. The analysis of data shows a kind of correlation between regional governments policy decisions and private initiatives regarding social enterprises with a particular case in Campania that influenced the whole system. In conclusion it is affirmed that if there is a lack of tradition in having community services, an ‘imposed’ system inspired to co-production can lead, at least in a first phase, to results that are even worse than the pre-existing situation.
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