The Role of Social Enterprise in Re-entry
This project is the result of a partnership between a local social enterprise based in Baltimore, Maryland and
Katherine Jones while at Master's student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Katherine independently
conducted the research project over the course of five months, Jan-May, in 2013.
Literature has investigated the connection between social enterprise and urban redevelopment; however limited literature has examined the role social enterprise plays in the lives of the employees and the potential social impact. This emphasized the need to understand the cultural and personal meaning of the experience working at such an organization.
The limited research previously conducted on the role of social enterprise in the lives of employees emphasized the need for qualitative methods. By using Phenomenology, this research was interested in the lived experiences of returning citizens found in detailed themes that developed an understanding of the culture.
This study used an open ended interview question strategy. Five participants were asked up to ten open-ended questions that provided an understanding of the role and meaning of the experience working for a social enterprise. Observations were also used to document the interview location, participant body language and tone, reactions to questions, and comfortability with researcher.
Organization is progressive and efficient
Move up in the organization much faster
Opportunity to give back
Open and judge free environment
Ability to be mentored
Ability to mentor in return
Skills to self-advocate
Policy-makers and social enterprise staff need to educated of the lived experience of returning citizens
“It is important to wake up individuals
to own humanity and self-worth."
"If you don’t give individuals that have this history meaningful opportunities, then crime will increase.”
"Like somebody who didn’t judge me for my past. Like I seen it as a second chance.”
“Living it gives credibility to ex-offenders, to show what life can be in spite of having a criminal record.”
“I probably wouldn’t seen supervisor until probably like damn near 40.”
Social enterprises do in fact provide relevant technical training and life skills to ex-offenders which supports upward mobility. More importantly, they provide a second chance. An environment to break down personal barriers and challenge societal views that have broken individual’s confidence, self-worth, and self-respect. An arena in which to show investment in community and opportunity to mentor others in similar situations.
The results of this study should be used to develop a conceptualization of social enterprise organizations and begin expansion of theory that provides an understanding beyond business strategies.