Purpose: The aim of this exploratory, mixed methods study was to develop and test a tool that identifies foundational dimensions of work integration social enterprises (WISEs) for use in empirical studies and enterprise self-assessment. Construction of the initial prototype was based upon a review of the literature and prior qualitative research by the authors. Design/methodology/approach: A 20-item question pool with a four-point response scale was constructed to explore WISE business and employment practices and strategies for worker growth and development. Three sequential field tests were conducted with the prototype – the first with 5 Canadian WISEs, the second with 14 WISEs in the UK and the third with 6 Canadian WISEs involved in an outcome study in the mental health sector. Each field test included completion of the questionnaire by persons with managerial responsibility within the WISE and evaluative feedback captured through questions on the applicability and interpretability of the items. Findings: Testing of the prototype instrument revealed the inherent diversity in the field and the difficulty in creating questions that both embrace that diversity and produce unidimensional variables definable along a spectrum. A number of challenges with question structure were identified and have been modified throughout the iterative testing process. Research limitations/implications: This study identified central domains for inclusion in a multi-dimensional WISE assessment tool. Further testing will help further refine scaling and establish psychometric properties. Originality/value: This measure will provide a descriptive profile of WISEs across sectors and identify WISE core dimensions for research and organizational development.
- social enterprise
- instrument design