A NEW MODEL
The role of the for-benefit corporation in Canada
The role of the for-benefit corporate model could be central to Canada’s social innovation ecosystem. This paper investigates how legislated for-benefit models could pave the way for social enterprises to transform how Canadians address social needs and solve social problems.
Design thinking and systemic design inform the research framework. A four-phase design cycle guides the research, with phases dedicated to analogous inspiration, documenting results, conducting analysis, and considering implementation.
A comparison of corporate features places Canada’s social enterprise activities in the context of the United Kingdom and the United States. In-person interviews, an online questionnaire, and a survey of social entrepreneurs indicate that respondents, while mindful of the risks posed by getting the model wrong, are overwhelmingly positive about the for-benefit form. Comments reflecting the input of 75 respondents illuminate how the for-benefit corporate model can meet Canada’s social enterprise aspirations.
Research results reveal barriers to moving forward with a for-benefit model in Canada and frame two problems associated with those barriers. The paper concludes with recommendations, intended to inform the design of a system that will move social entrepreneurs and social enterprise into the mainstream and support the next stage of social innovation.