Eden Project Case Study

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Eden Project Case Study

Introduction to Eden
Eden Project is one of the largest greenhouses in the world, it is a top Cornwall’s tourist attraction and an educational charity that attracts millions of tourist every year to come and see an outstanding collection of plants placed inside huge artificial biomes. Eden Project is not only a popular tourist attraction, it is a social enterprise that aims to “inspire people to go on a journey of discovery about the kind of society we want to live” (Eden Project, 2011). The Eden Project was constructed in a 160-year old fatigued china clay mine in Cornwall and the original idea came from Tim Smit, who decided to do everything in his will in order to involve people in creation of this project. His efforts paid off as after 2.5 years of development, on 17 March 2001, the world’s largest greenhouse was opened attracting 1.7 million visitors in their first year (cornwall-calling.co.uk, 2006). The success and reputation of this organisation as well as its great cause make it an attractive topic of investigation. Therefore the purpose of this report is to explore the nature of Eden Project as a social enterprise organisation, considering its approach to measure their value and effectiveness in terms of their triple bottom line. The second part will investigate into the organisation working as an open system, looking into their aims and objectives and how they interact with the external environment. Additionally, the report will also access Tim Smit’s management style, focusing on how it has contributed into the major success of the organisation and also limited it at the same time.

Eden as a Social Enterprise organisation
Social Enterprises (SE) are businesses trading to tackle social problems, improve communities, people’s life chances and the environment. This might be a similar description to a charity, but social enterprises are business and they operate for profit and when they profit – the society profits (SocialEnterpriseUK, 2010). SE are organisations with primarily social or environmental objectives whose profits are re-invested for the purpose of community. They are not driven by the need to maximise their profits for shareholders, their focus is to make a change and bring benefits to the society and that’s what makes social enterprise different from other, profit driven businesses (Paterson, 2011).

Eden Project is more than just a botanic garden; it is a social enterprise with a mission to promote public education and research in various aspects of the natural environment and inspire them to protect the environment. Eden addresses social problems, such as the decreasing amount of time that children spend playing outside and how damaging it is for them and it is dedicated to creating innovative solutions to resolve these issues, such as “Mud Between Your Toes” programme for children. A specific feature of social enterprise organisations is the way that they measure their value and organisational effectiveness. The framework they use is called a triple bottom line. It is an accounting framework that that incorporates three dimensions of performance: social, environmental and financial. The triple bottom line dimensions are also commonly called the three Ps: People, Planet and Profits (Slaper and Hall, 2011).

Example of Eden’s triple bottom line:
1. Planet : Concern with the environment it’s in the Eden Project’s nature, the managers are putting their best effort into making sure that they run their operations in the greenest way possible, the organisation is raising public awareness around environmental issues. But “It's not just about the planet. We make sure the charitable work we do makes a difference to people's lives too” (Eden Project, 2011).

2. People: The organisation is dedicated to educating people in a fascinating and entertaining way, running transformational social and environmental projects and inspiring them through various...
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