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Measurement as legitimacy versus legitimacy of measures: Performance evaluation of social enterprise

This paper explores what measures are valued and prioritised by third sector organisations in their performance evaluation. It uses a case study of three small to medium social enterprises in rural North West Tasmania with diverse structures and funding models. The research finds that most social enterprises studies emphasise qualitative measures of their outcomes, in contrast to the qualitative measures often required to demonstrate organisational legitimacy for common methods like Social Return on Investment (SROI). Moreover, they do not emphasise financial measures other than the basic financial resources to sustain the organisation and its social mission. Findings suggests that such organisations may be better-placed allocating resources towards documenting their actual outcomes and impacts as a first step to evaluating their social and financial impacts in terms appropriate to each objective.

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