Dr. John Schouten
Research involves: Understanding and facilitating social enterprise as a source of economic, ecological, social and cultural resilience and renewal.
Research relevance: This research will help advance the understanding and practice of social enterprise, with a special focus on Newfoundland and Labrador.
Building stronger communities through social enterprise
It is no secret that many communities in Newfoundland and Labrador are struggling. This is especially true of rural towns that once relied on the cod fishery for their survival. In such places, community members and leaders are looking for ways to preserve their homes, their ecosystems, and their ways of life. One type of effort that shows real promise for reinvigorating communities is social enterprise.
Social enterprise is the practice of business for pro-social aims. Unlike corporations, which exist primarily to drive profits to their investors, social enterprise prioritizes the wellbeing of people, communities, and the ecosystems that sustain them.
Because of their people-over-profits orientation, social enterprises can accomplish things that corporations cannot or will not do. They care for their local environments. They support other local businesses. They hire people that, on the surface, may not look like ideal job candidates. They do these things despite higher costs and inefficiencies, because they know they are also building capacity for the future of their community.
Dr. John Schouten, the Canada Research Chair in Social Enterprise, conducts research to improve knowledge and practice in social enterprise. With research teams that include students, he studies both successful social enterprises and fledgling ones that are struggling to overcome challenges. The goal is to learn and communicate what makes social enterprise successful, and what can be done to remove barriers to success.
The problems facing Newfoundland and Labrador communities are not unique, but they are especially acute. Dr. Schouten’s research aims to advance social enterprise as a partial solution to problems that corporations and governments have proven incapable of solving.