Cooney Presents at EMES International Conference on Social Enterprise

in SSW News Releases
July 12th, 2009

Kate Cooney, PhD, assistant professor of macro practice, and co-director of the Social Welfare Analysis Colloquium, presented a paper on U.S. work integration social purpose businesses at the 2nd Emes International Conference on Social Enterprises, held in Trento, Italy from 1st to 4th of July. More than 150 researchers from 36 counties from around the world gathered to discuss the management issues, theoretical and empirical analyses, innovation, conceptual aspects, legal framework, public policies, institutional framework and other important aspects of social enterprise.

Dr. Cooney’s presentation, “Social Purpose Businesses in the United States: Organizations in Flux,” covers data from a study piloting a survey on social enterprise organizations utilizing in-house businesses to provide job training for disadvantaged populations. This study examines the range of social purpose business (SPB) models employed to integrate business and social service technologies and the strategies used to compete successfully in product markets while maintaining commitment to social goals.  Data from semi-structured interviews conducted with 15 directors or managers of SPBs located in different regions of the U.S. show that slow growth, cross-subsidization, diversification, and flexible staffing are key strategies utilized across a range of SPB organizational models. The analyses highlight the ongoing importance of social sector subsidies in keeping these models afloat.

“Because in their most innovative forms, social enterprises provide job training and develop new services or products, work integration social enterprises could potentially play an important role in the long recovery from the current economic crisis. There is much to be learned from the important research underway by the EMES European research network on the new policies and legal frameworks emerging around the world to support social enterprise development.

Social enterprise is a rapidly growing field that combines the tools of for-profit business to a wide array of social problems. Many nonprofits practice social enterprise through workforce development; a local example includes Roxbury’s Haley House which trains homeless men and women in a bakery program. Graduates of the program go on to steady work, and supply the snacks and sandwiches for the organization’s café and catering business.

About BUSSW:

Distinguished by its urban mission and concentrations in clinical and macro practice, the Boston University School of Social Work is committed to educating masters’ and doctoral level students who will become leaders in a multicultural environment. The School offers the MSW and PhD degrees, as well as continuing professional education, and its nationally recognized faculty has been ranked 8th among schools of social work with doctoral programs. Located in a diverse and academically rich community, the School offers almost unlimited opportunities for urban social work practice and research.
About Boston University:

Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research. With more than 30,000 students, it is the fourth largest independent university in the United States. BU consists of 17 colleges and schools along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes which are central to the school’s research and teaching mission.