Kate Cooney's research uses institutional theory to study the intersection of business and social sectors. To understand how hybrid organizations are shaped by commercial and institutional isomorphic pressures, she has studied commercialization in the nonprofit sector, social enterprise, workforce development programs, and the emergence of new social business legal forms. Her studies on work integration social enterprise approaches to workforce development have appeared in the Nonprofit Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Voluntas, Social Enterprise Journal and the Journal of Poverty. She has also written broadly about market based approaches to poverty alleviation in the Social Service Review. Other work contributes to efforts to develop the micro foundations of institutional theory. Examples include a study of policy implementation in human service organizations contracting to provide welfare-to-work services, published in Administration & Society, and her current research interest in the negotiation of competing institutional logics in social enterprise organizations. Projects underway include an analysis of the diffusion of new legal forms for social business, and a study examining the organizational factors associated with financial risk and financial health in social enterprise models in selected subsectors of the U.S. nonprofit sector.
Prior to joining the faculty at Yale SOM, Dr. Cooney was on the faculty at Boston University teaching courses on nonprofit management, urban poverty and economic development, and community and organizational analysis. She has served as a research consultant for Abt Associates, Inc. and for Boston-based nonprofit organizations, including most recently, conducting a SROI analysis for Jewish Vocational Services (JVS) in Boston.