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Elena Dowin Kennedy, Erynn Beaton and Nardia Haigh

Social enterprises have developed unique governance structures and practices to balance the needs of beneficiaries, communities, employees, shareholders and funders, while also balancing their own dual social–business objectives (Ebrahim et al., 2014). They may therefore offer insights into how traditional firms (that is, regular for-profit companies) as well as other social enterprises might better complement positive financial returns with positive social impacts. Conversely, the well-established body of corporate governance knowledge that guides traditional firms may also benefit social enterprises. In this chapter, we utilise studies of corporate governance practices among traditional firms (and where possible, social enterprises) to identify common corporate governance issues and practices to answer the question: how might social enterprises and traditional firms increase their social impact through governance practices? We draw on three bodies of literature: on corporate governance, hybrid organisations and social enterprises. We briefly review relevant key concepts of these literatures below, before outlining the structure of the chapter, and reviewing the literatures in more detail in the body of the chapter as we undertake our analysis.