In Research


Year: 2015
Cited as: Bryan Dufour. State of the art in social impact measurement: methods for work integration social enterprises measuring their impact in a public context. 5th EMES International Research Conference on Social Enterprise: ”Building a scientific field to foster the social enterprise eco-system”, EMES, Jun 2015, Helsinki, Finland. ffhal-01458730f


Social entrepreneurship and the third sector at large have gained a considerable momentum over the past two decades. Stemming from private initiatives, this phenomenon found a positive echo in the public sphere through the political reforms enthused by new public management and their attempt to inject market-inspired mechanisms into public administration. Social enterprises are therefore progressively being recommended as a key lever for governments to focus on in the currently challenging economic context. While picking up on the enthusiasm for social enterprises, governments are also interested in measuring their social impacts, which happens to fit particularly well in the new public management’s paradigm and its evaluation requirements. Going from this observation, this article focuses on work integration social enterprises (WISEs), a well-identified subset of social enterprises. It first goes through a history of social impact measurement before establishing a review of the existing social impact measurement methodologies to date, focusing on the ones relevant for WISEs in a public management context. It then proposes a framework to categorize these methodologies using a new public management lens, while highlighting some of the limits of such an undertaking.