The scope of this chapter is to provide an illustration of how social co-operatives can consistently pursue their social mission whilst retaining economic sustainability. We rely on case study analysis of an Italian social co-operative. Since 1991 social co-operatives have been conceived in the Italian legislation as mutual-benefit entrepreneurial organisations with a social character. The social objective was nested into the mutualistic structure, while the multi-stakeholder governance and the accumulation of socialized assets made the social co-operative similar to more traditional non-profit forms. Our study was conducted at CEFF (Educational Co-operative for the Faenza Families), an organisation that comprises two social co-operatives located in Faenza, (Emilia-Romagna, Italy), offering both employability services and labour integration for the disadvantaged. CEFF is a suitable case to contribute to an understanding of the emergence, sustainability and resilience of the co-operative business model. First, we offer an analysis of the structure and development of governance at CEFF, as an illustration of the emergence of a multi-stakeholder co-operative. Second, by analysing its evolution over time, we aim at shedding new light on the social nature of cooperation within a market economy, and on the ways in which co-operatives can generate and distribute social value across an integrated (horizontal) value chain by means of networking.
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