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Managing Social Enterprise

Managing Social Enterprise: The Business of Social Change

This course (taught by  Kate Cooney) provides the opportunity to examine, through a set of academic studies, guest lectures and case studies, intersections of management and social change efforts.  We look at efforts to make the world a better place, and the management skills that undergird them, across the sectors.  Topics include: reimagining capitalism, corporations and human rights, certification regimes, management issues in social movements, sector selection for social enterprise and levers for systems level impact.  Course provides skill building in: social movement campaign development, organizational design (choosing the right organizational legal form), the challenge of integrating interdisciplinary human resources, calculating a SROI (social return on investment), and tracking not just firm level but also system level change.

In the unit of reimaging capitalism, there are two assignment options for students to focus on business approaches to creating change.  Students have the opportunity to work in teams to identify a firm whose business model is making progress on one of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Students will be asked to present the SDG context, the industry context of the firm, the way the firm’s business model and strategy aligns with SDG aims, and potential for broader industry shifts to result. Another option in this unit is for students to explore the challenges of managing human rights violations in corporate supply chains.  As part of this assignment, students will pick a product used regularly and trace the supply chain back as far as possible for the manufacture and assembly of this product.  As part of this assignment, students will compare and contrast four approaches to monitoring human rights violations in corporate supply chains as they apply to their case: policy mandates, certification schemes and transparency projects, investor-led divestment, and firm-led activity based on a business case.   

In the unit on movements for change, students work together (or individually) to pick a social movement campaign and assess it according to a framework supplied in class.  Students will examine the mobilizing opportunity, the governance structure of the organizational infrastructure facilitating the movement, the strategy to convert emotion about an issue into action, the framing of the issue, and the strategic engagement of networks and allies.  The unit covers both social movement campaigns and corporate intrapreneurship initiatives.  The assignment can focus on campaigns from either realm.

In the organizational design unit, we explore nonprofit versus for profit legal forms for social enterprise.  We also examine different types of for profit forms, including benefit corporations and cooperatives.  This unit will draw on case studies to elucidate key legal differences between the forms and the implications of these differences for social impact strategy.  Students will learn a heuristic for deciding which organizational form best fits a focal organization.  As part of this unit, students will apply the heuristic to a case of their choosing (supplied by the instructor) or to an organization they are familiar with or to their own start up project.

The final unit in the course focuses on levers for impact.  This unit features an opportunity for students to work on the design and measure of the components of an SROI study to illustrate the broader set of measurement tools available for measuring and communicating social impact. The course has traditionally ended in a debate about the right way to exit for social entrepreneurs to preserve mission and leverage impact.