Social enterprise is a management practice that integrates principles of private enterprise with social sector goals and objectives. Social enterprise is a relatively new type of social work macro practice and includes a variety of sustainable economic activities designed to yield social impact for individuals, families, and communities. Despite the increased popularity of social enterprise scholarship, social work is visibly absent from it. Social enterprise is a field that promises to harness the energy and enthusiasm of commercial entrepreneurship combined with macro practice to address many long-standing social issues. Despite being a popular practice phenomenon, empirical research on social enterprise is still quite nascent, indeed: only a few empirical articles on the subject have thus far appeared in academic journals, and even fewer in social work journals. This article provides an overview of social enterprise, and the potential for synergy between social enterprise, the social work profession, and education.
Roger A. Lohmann and Nancy Lohmann
There has been a quiet revolution in financial management practice in social agencies in recent decades, symbolized by the transition from fund to enterprise accounting and increasing recognition of the “third sector” of the social economy. The traditional voluntary agency model of donations has been joined by grants, performance contracts, “managed care,” and an array of other options, and traditional voluntary agency-based and public agency practice now exist alongside corporate for-profit service delivery and various forms of private practice. Social enterprise and entrepreneurship are a common theme in all this diversity, as social agencies must aggressively seek out financial support. In this environment, two models of budgeting, termed “common-pool” and social enterprise budgeting, have emerged.