The last decade has seen a growing interest in the measurement of the impact and performance of social and solidarity economy (SSE) organizations. This has been fuelled, among other things, by the rapid growth of the importance given to social enterprise, social entrepreneurship and impact investing in recent years. This paper, commissioned by the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) as part of its Sustainable Development Performance Indicators project, attempts to review the methodologies, metrics and indicators implemented in the SSE today.
Based on a review of the existing literature, it presents a selection of assessment tools and indicators that have been applied to SSE and so-called blended value enterprises since the 1990s. Some of the key approaches considered in this work include: the theory of change; the social accounting, reporting and auditing streams; various tools developed by the cooperative sector; the concept of “utilité sociale
” (social usefulness) elaborated in France; the Sustainable Livelihoods framework; the Social return on investment (SROI) method; the IRIS bank of indicators; the impact assessment system developed by B Lab; and the principles advocated by the Impact Management Project. Specific attention is given to the origins and diffusion of these approaches, the role indicators may play in assessing the contribution of SSE to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other key issues related to the field.
is Research Analyst at UNRISD. Marie J. Bouchard
is Coordinator, International Working Group on Methods and Indicators for Evaluating the Social Economy at the International Centre of Research and Information on the Public, Social and Cooperative Economy (CIRIEC) and Marguerite Mendell
is Professor Emerita at the School of Community and Public Affairs (SCPA), Concordia University.