Analysis of the social impact of social enterprises and social cooperatives on work integration

Research Area: Measurement and Impact
Scientific coordinator: Sara Depedri

Project status: on-going

The topic of social impact evaluation is of great interest and a priority to both researchers and cooperatives. Nevertheless, some of the methodologies tested in the past can prove to be full of gaps or risky, while new models are not yet sufficiently promoted nor tested. Prompted by a number of social cooperatives and their consortia, for some years Euricse has been reflecting on the theme of social impact evaluation.

Attention was initially paid to the activity of work integration of disadvantaged subjects, developing a cost-benefit analysis model and a model for evaluating the impact on the well-being of disadvantaged workers and therefore an evaluation of the effectiveness of the action.

The research was then extended to all social cooperatives, proposing initial models for evaluating the social impact generated that were applicable to both type-A and type-B social cooperatives. Methodological research was carried out, studying the different components and dimensions of social impact. The model is currently being implemented and will be applied to extensive samples of the social cooperatives and their consortia who are voluntarily participating in the research organized by Euricse.


The general objective of the research is to develop and test methodologies for analysing the social impact of cooperative and social enterprises. In particular, based on these analyses, the researchers intend to develop proposals for evaluation methodologies by integrating the existing impact evaluation scales in such a way as to adapt them to the context. An initial phase of the research involved administering a questionnaire to the social cooperatives participating in the project. This year the aim is to apply this tool to other social cooperatives and consortia in order to firstly verify the social impact generated by these organizational forms. The subsequent objective is to translate the collected data into indicators and indices in order to arrive at a complete yet concise identification methodology that will allow individual social cooperatives to verify their positioning in regards to the objectives and to what can be considered a good social cooperative. The long-term objective is to translate the cost-benefit and impact indicator methodologies into cross-cutting systems for surveying social impact for social enterprises and into software for self-evaluation by the social enterprises themselves.

Main results

The analysis of the social impact generated by social cooperatives belonging to the consortia Confcooperative-Federsolidarietà Treviso and InConcerto was concluded in 2014. The results, published in two reports, were presented at conferences with local public actors. The applied research led to:

  • testing a model for social cooperatives for self-surveying the social impact they generate, making available a tool in the form of a questionnaire and a composite system of impact indicators.
  • surveying the different aspects of social impact, concluding that the impact is significant not just for users (disadvantaged workers or users of the cooperatives with an effect on their well-being) but also in terms of generated employment or quality of the employment (stability; employment for youth, the untrained, women and those who find themselves in the grey area between social welfare and the free market; benefits in addition to salary; satisfaction of needs), social capital and benefits to the community and savings for public administrations and the externalities produced.
  • opening up to concrete evaluation models, in line with EU directives and for future national developments.
    In practical terms, the cost-benefit analysis of work integration produced an Excel model  with instructions for compilation in 2014. At the suggestion of the Trento Agenzia di Lavoro, this will begin to be used for surveying the impact of integration in Trentino social cooperatives in 2015. The tool required an adaptation of the methodologies already proposed by Euricse for the cost-benefit analysis and showed definite savings generated by social cooperatives for public administrations in 2013.


Depedri, S.,(2014), Non solo numeri: l’impatto sociale della cooperazione sociale in provincia di Treviso, Euricse research report.

This research report includes the most recent evolutions of a concluded project whose specific subject was cost-benefit analysis for social cooperatives active in work integration:

Policies and actions for work integration. Analysis of the economic and social impact and role of type-B cooperatives.

The concept of “impact” and particularly of “social impact” is assuming increasing relevance at both a scientific level and among policy-makers. Interest is growing particularly in the development of a system of evaluation aimed at identifying the social effects in general and in particular the impact on work quality and the supply of welfare services by social enterprises, and more generally cooperatives.

The research wants to make an original contribution to this debate and has the objective both of developing specific methodological proposals for impact evaluation for cooperatives and social enterprises, and concretely measuring certain types of impact of particular significance.

The other projects that fall within this line of research are:

Analysis of the role played by social enterprise in modern welfare systems in a comparative perspective;
Analysis of the impact of cooperative and social enterprises on work quality.


Confcooperative-Federsolidarietà Treviso
Consorzio InConcerto

Confcooperative Veneto

Cooperativa Noncello
Agenzia del Lavoro di Trento

Last publications

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