Challenges and limitations of social impact measurement in social and solidarity economy


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Several challenges are associated with measuring the social impact of SSE’s organisations, including the complexity of social issues; lack of standardised metrics; long-term impact, attribution and cost. Measuring the social impact of social enterprises is a complex and challenging task. While several methods and frameworks are available, each has its limitations, and it can be challenging to determine the most appropriate approach for a given social enterprise and social issue.

However, SSE’ organisations have several limitations to social impact measurement, which relate to subjectivity, lack of comparability, difficulty in measuring long-term impact, and resource constraints. This special issue focuses on challenges and limitations in social impact measurement, advances the methodology and epistemology, providing insights and recommendations for improving the accuracy and validity of social impact measurement. These insights could lead to better decision-making, more effective SSE, and greater social and environmental impact.

Ebrahim and Rangan (2014) propose differentiating the measurement in the long- or short-term depending on the organisation’s mission. This contingency approach introduces variability, but still, key issues need to be considered: causality of interventions and control over results. Bassi (2012) asks about a distinctive characteristic, a specificity of not-for-profit organisations compared to for-profit for which performance measures are well recognised.

This particular edition aims to fill the existing gaps in understanding and theory related to social impact by Social and Solidarity Economy’ organisations. In terms of research the specific aims are: to help evaluate whether SSE interventions are actually achieving their intended outcomes; to identify best practices for comparative studies. In terms of practice the specific aims are: to attract funding by SSE due to demonstrating a positive social impact; to inform public policy decisions related to social enterprise development, regulation, and support. In terms of teaching the specific aims are: to understand the purpose and potential impact of SSE; to learn to evaluate the effectiveness of SSE interventions; to learn how to create sustainable businesses that benefit society while also generating economic value.

We are requesting submissions of empirical and conceptual papers on this topic, which can cover a wide range of subjects however the list of topic areas is not exhaustive.


List of topic areas

  • What are good practices of social impact measurement implementation in social enterprises? How to drive measurement by the story of the intervention? How do market and policy dynamics influence social impact measurement? How do different stakeholders assess social value?
  • What are the unintended consequences of scaling social impact in social enterprise and social entrepreneurship?
  • What are the limits of the SROI methodology? What are the barriers to using existing methodologies such as SROI.  How the barriers to using SROI are overcome?


Guest Editors

Marek Ćwiklicki, 
Krakow University of Economics, Poland
[email protected]

Audrone Urmanaviciene, 
Tallin University, Estonia
[email protected]

Andrea Bassi, 
Bologna University, Italy
[email protected] 


Submissions Information

Submissions are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts. Registration and access are available by clicking the button below.

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Author guidelines must be strictly followed.
Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to ““Please select the issue you are submitting to”. 
Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.


Key deadlines

Opening date for manuscripts submissions: 23 August 2023
Closing date for manuscripts submission: 31 March 2024        
Email for submission queries: [email protected]