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Sustainable Social Enterprises Governance and Management

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Economic and Business Aspects of Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2021) | Viewed by 14497

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Economics and Management, University of Trento, 38122 Trento, Italy
Interests: institutional economics; behavioral economics; evolutionary economics; institutionalist theory of the firm; co-operative enterprises; social enterprises; non-profit organizations; third sector; social economy; environmental economics; sustainability; labor economics; human resource management; personnel economics; work practices; organizational fairness; procedural fairness; interactional fairness; worker motivations; job satisfaction; happiness economics
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IACCHOS, Université Catholique de Louvain, 1348 Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
Interests: sustainability; sustainable transitions; gender and wellbeing; social services; social innovation

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Guest Editor
Applied Economy, University of Mondragon, 20500 Arrasate, Spain
Interests: cooperative enterprises; worker cooperatives; social capital; economic efficiency and productivity

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Guest Editor
Department of Economics, Finance and Statistics, University of Perugia, 06123 Perugia, Italy
Interests: behavioral economics; third sector research; social enterprises; social innovation; social capital

Special Issue Information

Dear colleague,

Organizational sustainability refers to the ability of the organization to meet its current financial and economic needs for growth and prosperity without hindering the ability of society and the environment to perpetuate, and possibly to improve themselves. A now long-standing theoretical and empirical tradition in the study of third sector organizations has identified social enterprises (SEs) such as associations, cooperatives, foundations and social businesses as sustainable organizations, especially in terms of their ability to contribute as key actors to society’s smooth development in the long run and be resilient to negative shocks in the short run. For example, these organizations (usually) guarantee job stability better than profit-oriented corporations (Arando, Freundlich, Gago, Jones and Kato, 2011). They also perform better gender equality and longevity and are better equipped to integrate environmental issues than their for-profit counterparts. They offer quality services for customers, common resources and positive social effects for the community, since they include in their management aspects related to social transformation (cfr., for example, the close match between social enterprises objectives and sustainable development goals of the United Nations. Online: https://sdgs.un.org/goals). In doing so, they generate social capital in the communities where they are based (Arando, Gago, Freundlich and Ugarte, 2012).

The roots of sustainability and resilience within and by SEs have been found in the ability to combine and involve different types of resources (human and nonhuman, material and immaterial) and factors in their governance mechanisms and decision-making processes (Poledrini 2015). Dedicated mechanisms and involvement processes allow SEs to factor in the different needs and objectives of different social groups and environmental issues (Poledrini, 2015: Borzaga and Tortia, 2017; Sacchetti and Borzaga, 2017; Tortia, Degavre and Poledrini, 2020; Poledrini and Tortia, 2020). Public policy mechanisms and public finance can intervene as external factors that improve the sustainability of SEs. On the other hand, we are clear about the fact that there can be obstacles to sustainability in terms of technological and institutional barriers and impasses, or scarcity of resources. In the presence of such obstacles, SEs become and remain sustainable by combining a series of mechanisms and public tools.

This Special Issue seeks to improve the understanding of the sustainable development of SEs and resilience to crisis, that is, their ability to withstand and absorb negative shocks, by focusing on the two fundamental organizational dimensions of governance and management. The rationale of our argument rests with the fact that the necessity for SEs to meet the triple bottom line of economic, social, and environmental sustainability can mould organizational processes, formal and informal coordination mechanisms, managerial competencies, training, style, and choices.

By analyzing how different governance rules and dedicated organizational processes are conducive to needs satisfaction for different stakeholder-patrons, governance structure can be related to the different dimensions of sustainability. This is especially true for enlarged multistakeholder governance, which may or may not be coupled with limited distribution of profits (a partial or total nonprofit distribution constraint).

Management, on the other hand, can be thought of as a fundamental function of the organization that needs to adapt to the changing organizational model, in terms of social objectives and innovative ways to satisfy needs. Managerial practices evolve with needs satisfaction, governance rules, and firm objectives. Third-sector organizations and especially SEs have been pioneering the implementation of new practices, which focus on involvement more than the direction of stakeholders, and the valorization of social more than extrinsic motivations.

The Special Issue welcomes both theoretical contributions and empirical analysis (both qualitative and quantitative) dealing with the enlarged governance mechanisms of and managerial approaches to SEs as key actors in social, economic, and environmental sustainability. It also welcomes contributions that show how these specific governance solutions and managerial mechanisms could contribute to sustainability transitions in different economic sectors. We seek treatment of those mechanisms and approaches, which promise or have been shown to deliver sustainable outcomes and resilience to crisis, referring also to the post-pandemic economic crisis that we are witnessing.

References

Arando S., Gago. G, Freundlich, F., Ugarte, L. (2012): Capital social y cooperativismo. Projectics / Proyéctica / Projectique 2/2012 (n°11‐12), 41‐54. Online: https://www.cairn.info/revue-projectique-2012-2-page-41.htm#

Arando S., Gago. G, Freundlich, F., Jones, D.C. and Kato, T. (2011). Assessing Mondragon: Stability & Managed Change in the Face of Globalization. William Davidson Institute, MI: Ann Arbor, WP 1003. Online: file:///C:/Users/ermanno.tortia/Downloads/SSRN-id1726449%20(1).pdf

Borzaga, C, Tortia, EC (2017). Co-operation as Co-ordination Mechanism: A New Approach to the Economics of Co-operative Enterprises. In J Michie, J Blasi, C Borzaga (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Mutual, Co-operative, and Coowned Business. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 55-75.

Poledrini, S. (2015). Unconditional Reciprocity and the Case of Italian Social Cooperatives. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 44(3), 457–473. https://doi.org/10.1177/0899764013518844

Poledrini, S., & Tortia, E. C. (2020). Social Enterprises: Evolution of the Organizational Model and Application to the Italian Case, Entrepreneurship Research Journal (published online ahead of print)

Sacchetti, S. & Borzaga, C. (2017), The Foundations of the “Public” Organisation: Strategic Control and the Problem of the Costs of Exclusion, Euricse Working Papers, 98|17. Online: https://www.euricse.eu/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/WP-98_17-Sacchetti-Borzaga.pdf

Tortia, E., Degavre, F., & Poledrini, S. (2020) “Why are social enterprises good candidates for social innovation? Looking for personal and institutional drivers of innovation”, Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Vol. 91, No. 2. DOI:10.1111/apce.12265

Prof. Dr. Ermanno C. Tortia
Prof. Dr. Florence Degavre
Dr. Mónica Gago García
Dr. Simone Poledrini
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • third-sector organizations
  • social enterprises
  • multistakeholder governance
  • triple bottom line
  • managerial practices

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

17 pages, 623 KiB  
Article
Searching for Sustainability in Health Systems: Toward a Multidisciplinary Evaluation of Mobile Health Innovations
by Florence Degavre, Suzanne Kieffer, David Bol, Rémi Dekimpe, Charlotte Desterbecq, Thibault Pirson, Georgiana Sandu and Sandy Tubeuf
Sustainability 2022, 14(9), 5286; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14095286 - 27 Apr 2022
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2684
Abstract
Mobile health (mHealth) innovations are considered by governments as game changers toward more sustainable health systems. The existing literature focuses on the clinical aspects of mHealth but lacks an integrated framework on its sustainability. The foundational idea for this paper is to include [...] Read more.
Mobile health (mHealth) innovations are considered by governments as game changers toward more sustainable health systems. The existing literature focuses on the clinical aspects of mHealth but lacks an integrated framework on its sustainability. The foundational idea for this paper is to include disciplinary complementarities into a multi-dimensional vision to evaluate the non-clinical aspects of mHealth innovations. We performed a targeted literature review to find how the sustainability of mHealth innovations was appraised in each discipline. We found that each discipline considers a different outcome of interest and adopts different time horizons and perspectives for the evaluation. This article reflects on how the sustainability of mHealth innovation can be assessed at both the level of the device itself as well as the level of the health system. We identify some of the challenges ahead of researchers working on mobile health innovations in contributing to shaping a more sustainable health system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Social Enterprises Governance and Management)
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15 pages, 2395 KiB  
Article
Sustainable but Not Spontaneous: Co-Operatives and the Solidarity Funds in Italy
by Andrea Bernardi, Cécile Berranger, Anita Mannella, Salvatore Monni and Alessio Realini
Sustainability 2022, 14(8), 4516; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14084516 - 11 Apr 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2369
Abstract
This paper aims to highlight the role of solidarity funds in the development and support of national co-operative movements. Those are financial institutions specialized in supporting the start-up and growth of co-operatives. By adopting a case study approach, our analysis shows that solidarity [...] Read more.
This paper aims to highlight the role of solidarity funds in the development and support of national co-operative movements. Those are financial institutions specialized in supporting the start-up and growth of co-operatives. By adopting a case study approach, our analysis shows that solidarity funds emerged globally with similar objectives. Our international comparison focuses on Italy but includes France, the United Kingdom and Québec as a specific Canadian province with a French institutional environment. Despite their crucial importance, there is limited available research on this subject. To this end, our paper has policy implications; we need to consider establishing such institutions in countries where co-operatives are lagging behind as traditional financial institutions are often unable to finance co-operatives because of their property rights regime. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Social Enterprises Governance and Management)
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20 pages, 683 KiB  
Article
Worker Involvement and Performance in Italian Social Enterprises: The Role of Motivations, Gender and Workload
by Ermanno C. Tortia, Mónica Gago, Florence Degavre and Simone Poledrini
Sustainability 2022, 14(2), 1022; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14021022 - 17 Jan 2022
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 3104
Abstract
Over the past two decades, organizational sustainability has been studied from several different perspectives, such as marketing, governance, strategy, and human resource management (HRM). However, sustainability framed in HRM has not yet received enough attention in the literature, especially as it concerns the [...] Read more.
Over the past two decades, organizational sustainability has been studied from several different perspectives, such as marketing, governance, strategy, and human resource management (HRM). However, sustainability framed in HRM has not yet received enough attention in the literature, especially as it concerns the study of different organizational forms. Building on Enhert and Harry’s (2012) sustainable HRM approach, this article studies worker empowerment and how it affects organizational performance in terms of service quality and service innovation. Specifically, it addresses how relational motivations interact with HR-empowering practices (involvement in decisions and task autonomy) as organizational resources in influencing performance, how workload pressure resulting from HR empowerment can improve performance, and the influence of gender on performance, especially with concerns for human capital (tertiary education) and motivations. To this end, a representative sample of workers employed by Italian social enterprises (ES) in the social service sector is used. We propose multilevel SEMs that are based on two sets of equations specifying worker- and organization-level effects on organizational performance. Our main results show that the combination of worker engagement and an appropriate relational context in the organizational environment is most conducive to delivering better and innovative services. In addition, a higher percentage of well-trained and relationally motivated women employees helps achieve this goal. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Social Enterprises Governance and Management)
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21 pages, 657 KiB  
Article
Resilience in Vulnerable Small and New Social Enterprises
by Elizabeth A. M. Searing
Sustainability 2021, 13(24), 13546; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132413546 - 07 Dec 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2101
Abstract
The use of financial ratios in predicting financial vulnerability has a large body of literature, but few studies address resilience and the recovery from financial distress. Further, no vulnerability studies specifically address the needs of small and young social enterprises. This study uses [...] Read more.
The use of financial ratios in predicting financial vulnerability has a large body of literature, but few studies address resilience and the recovery from financial distress. Further, no vulnerability studies specifically address the needs of small and young social enterprises. This study uses over twenty years of panel data to predict which factors signal the future recovery of small and young social enterprises. There is mixed support for hypotheses found in the literature, and though additional equity and revenue diversification is shown to be beneficial, increased surplus ratios carry implications which vary between financial stressors. Even in a sample of small organizations, we find evidence for the liability of smallness. Implications for practitioners, researchers, and policymakers are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Social Enterprises Governance and Management)
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11 pages, 293 KiB  
Article
Diversity of the Board of Directors and Financial Performance of the Firms
by Felipe Arenas-Torres, Miguel Bustamante-Ubilla and Roberto Campos-Troncoso
Sustainability 2021, 13(21), 11687; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132111687 - 22 Oct 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2763
Abstract
The diversity of the board of directors continues to be a matter of concern for investors, regulators, and the general public. In this sense, the purpose of the research presented was to identify whether there is a positive and significant impact between the [...] Read more.
The diversity of the board of directors continues to be a matter of concern for investors, regulators, and the general public. In this sense, the purpose of the research presented was to identify whether there is a positive and significant impact between the diverse variables of the board of directors and the financial performance of the firms. In this context, the study’s objective was to determine if the diversity in the composition of the boards of directors has a positive and significant impact on the financial performance of the companies listed in the Chilean stock market. The study considered a sample of 1106 reports on social responsibility and sustainable development between the 2015–2020 period and their respective returns. The research was descriptive-correlational, which determined the incidence of gender, nationality, and age diversity in the financial performance of the firms. The results show, in general, a low degree of gender and nationality diversity in Chilean boards. However, a positive and significant impact is observed in the commercial sector, nationality diversity, and the construction and gender diversity axis. In this regard, the study allows confirming the heterogeneity of results by linking the variables of diversity and financial performance and the importance of conducting sufficiently disaggregated studies to understand the relationship between both types of variables. Finally, this study updates the diversity levels of the board of directors for the Chilean stock market and establishes challenges for the regulator in terms of gender quotas and good corporate governance practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Social Enterprises Governance and Management)
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