TIRESIA (Technology, Innovation and Research for Social Impact) was established in 2013 and promotes the teaching and research in the impact economy, an emerging entrepreneurial and financial paradigm including all organizational forms which are intentionally designed and managed to exert a transformative power on society. We refer to these latter as impact-oriented organizations, primarily including social ventures, impact-driven for-profit companies, impact investors, banks, financial institutions and policy makers. The group’s research and teaching is dedicated to understanding the structures, managerial practices and strategies of such organizational forms, with a specific focus on the role played by technological opportunities.
Impact Finance and Social Venture Growth
About the project
Principal Investigators: Mario Calderini, Irene Bengo
Researcher team: Alice Borrello, Nicola Ballerini, Federico Bartolomucci, Debora Caloni, Veronica Chiodo, Benedetta De Pieri, Claudio Di Benedetto, Magali Fia, Francesco Gerli, Gabriele Guzzetti, Farah Nabil, Valentina Tosi
Funders: Funds and Banks: Equiter, Intesa San Paolo, OltreVenture, Plus Value, Sefea, Unicredit, Ubi Banca, Fondazione Cariplo
Duration: 2013 – ongoing
KEY RESEARCH QUESTIONS
TIRESIA (Technology, Innovation and Research for Social Impact) promotes the teaching and research in the impact economy, an emerging entrepreneurial and financial paradigm including all organizational forms which are intentionally designed and managed to exert a transformative power on society. We refer to these latter as impact-oriented organizations, primarily including social ventures, impact-driven for-profit companies, impact investors, banks, financial institutions and policy makers. The group’s core belief is that a fundamental transformation is taking place in social entrepreneurship as well in mainstream business and finance, under the pressure of converging forces such as a structural change of people’s values, emerging societal challenges, the withdrawal of the welfare state and technological innovation. Investigating the causes and consequences of such transformation and the related implications of the blended coexistence of impact and profit objectives in organizations is crucial to improve our understanding of new managerial and strategic challenges which are bound to deeply affect social innovators and enterprises, for-profit corporation or financial investors in the next decade.
The evolution of traditional social enterprises into social ventures is marked by three distinctive characteristics: blended value, managerial structuration and technology-intensity.
- What are the related managerial challenges? What managerial tools and practices should be developed to support such transformation?
- Does the blended coexistence of impact and profit objectives add an extra layer of complexity in the management of impact-oriented organizations?
Increasing the size of the organizations and maximizing the positive benefits created for the society may represent conflict objectives and define a precise trade-off between growth and impact scaling.
- Which specific challenges do Social Ventures face when defining their scaling strategies?
- What are the specific organizational and strategic configurations related to the solutions of these trade-offs?
- What is the potential of hybrid partnership forms, between not-for-profit and for-profit organizations?
Technological innovation is offering social entrepreneurs new opportunities to identify and tackle emerging social problems and is deeply transforming the nature of impact-oriented entrepreneurship, turning entrepreneurial models from labour-intensive to capital-intensive and enabling new and sustainable social business models.
- How is technology affecting impact-oriented organisations and what are the related managerial challenges?
- Which social business models should be developed to fully exploit the potential of technological innovation in terms of creating a positive impact on society?
Capital-intensity in impact-oriented organizations is creating an appetite for specialized capital, suitable to support hybrid organizations. The financial industry has risen to the challenge by developing a new potential asset class called Impact Finance.
- Are social-tech start-ups cash constrained? Is there a mismatch between supply and demand of impact capital?
- Is impact investing the right way to address SVs financial needs?
- What are the barriers that impact-oriented organisations experience in the access to financial markets and what are the specific financial instruments that are most suitable to address their financial needs?
- What are the trajectories of evolution of the social impact finance ecosystem?
- What is the nature of impact finance? And what is the nature of the trade-off among financial return, social return, financial risk, social risk and social impact?
- What are the potential tensions between financial investors and the other groups of SVs stakeholders, and how do they evolve?
- What is the state of the art of impact metrics and measurement? How can impact measurement be improved in order to reduce transaction costs and represent a reliable performance indicator to be used in impact finance transactions?
OUTPUTS & IMPACTS
- BENGO, I., ARENA, M. (2019). The relationship between small and medium-sized social enterprises and banks. International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, in press
- AL TAJI, F. N. A., & BENGO, I. (2018). The Distinctive Managerial Challenges of Hybrid Organizations: Which Skills are Required?. Journal of Social Entrepreneurship, 1-18.
- CALDERINI, M., CHIODO, V. & MICHELUCCI , F.V. (2018). The social impact investment race: toward an interpretative framework . European Business Review, Vol. 30 Issue: 1, pp.66-81
- ARENA, M., BENGO, I., CALDERINI, M. & CHIODO, V. (2017). Unlocking finance for social tech start-ups: Is there a new opportunity space? Technological Forecasting and Social Change. 127, 154-165.
- ARENA, M., BENGO, I., CALDERINI, M., CHIODO, V. (2016). Social Impact Bonds: Blockbuster or Flash in a Pan? International Journal of Public Administration, 39(12), 927-939.
- Institutions: Comune di Milano, Ministero dello sviluppo Economico, Ministero degli Affari Esteri, OECD, JRC European Commission.
- Academic: Università di Trento, Università di Bologna, Università di Napoli, Università di Torino, Università di Macerata, Università di Catanzaro, Università Bocconi, Università Cattolica, Politecnico di Torino.