Research and Cases

Articles and White Papers

Making Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship Education More Accessible and Relevant

This article provides an example of an online certificate in social innovation and social entrepreneurship at PSU; an overview of the certificate’s design, delivery, and impact measurement; and preliminary feedback from student participants. The purpose of this article is to provide a guide to other educational institutions considering an online program in social entrepreneurship and/or social innovation.

Online Certificate in Social Innovation: Enabling Diverse Students to Go from “I Care” to “I Can”

Social innovators typically work in isolation and with little preparation, often not realizing there are disciplined approaches to creating and deploying effective social enterprises and that there are thousands of others like them. Recognizing these realities, PSU's Social Innovation Certificate reaches diverse, impact-driven future leaders and teaches them to use applied learning to build their capacity as effective changemakers.

Replication School: Scaling Social Innovation through Dissemination Training

A white paper detailing how Impact Entrepreneurs worked with The Rockefeller Foundation to help social entrepreneurs learn from Digital Divide Data's successful impact sourcing model.


Case Studies

A collection of award-winning cases on social entrepreneurship and sustainability written by Portland State University faculty, staff, and students. Email Jacen Greene ( for teaching notes or questions on usage. Many of these cases are available to use for free in educational settings.

ALTIS: A Microfinance Startup in Rural Nepal (2010 oikos Award Finalist)

Examines the creation of a new microfinance organization and associated capacity-building programs within an existing international NGO. Published in Case Studies in Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainability, Greenleaf, 2011.

Altruism versus Profit: Clean Water in India

A social enterprise delivering clean drinking water in India deals with the fallout of a crisis in its parent foundation. Published in Business & Society: Ethics, Sustainability and Stakeholder Management 10e, Cengage, 2016.

Burgerville: Instilling A Sustainable Culture

Explores the ways in which a regional fast-food chain developed a staff culture of sustainability to support a strategic focus on the triple bottom line.

Burgerville: Sustainability and Sourcing in a QSR Supply Chain (2011 oikos Award 2nd Place)

Sustainable sourcing, local purchasing, and certifications as an emergent strategy in the fast-food industry.

Clean Water Grow: Go or No Go? (2014 oikos Award 2nd Place)

Analysis of marketing mix options, in terms of break-even quantity and return on investment, for a product to support wastewater infrastructure in the face of population growth and increased pressure on natural systems.

Country Natural Beef: A Maturing Co-op at the Crossroads

Analyzes the choices faced by a rancher cooperative as it seeks to incorporate sustainability efforts and meet changing consumer demands.

Friends of the Children: Strategies for Scaling Impact (2016 oikos Award 2nd Place)

A national nonprofit focused on improving outcomes for vulnerable children develops a new scaling strategy and funding plan focused on impact investing and social entrepreneurship. 

Grameen Intel Social Business: Technology Solutions at the Base of the Pyramid (2015 Next Billion Competition 2nd Place)

Technology-based product development, new market entry, and impact measurement within social businesses/social enterprises serving the base of the pyramid.

Hopworks Urban Brewery: A Case of Sustainable Beer (2015 oikos Award 1st Place)

Explores the financial and branding cost/benefit tradeoffs facing a craft brewery in their efforts to incorporate sustainability into their long-term strategy.

Madécasse: Competing with a 4x Fair Trade Model (2013 oikos Award 1st Place)

Highlights decisions related to marketing and operations strategy, measurement of social and environmental impacts, pros and cons of eco-labels and certifications in the chocolate industry.

Portland Roasting: Farm-Friendly Direct (2010 oikos Award 1st Place)

Highlights decisions related to marketing and operations strategy, pros and cons of certification, and social sustainability versus the other aspects of sustainability in the coffee supply chain.

SeQuential: Sustainability and Growth in the Biofuels Business

A vertically-integrated Pacific NW biofuels business faces political and economic challenges to expansion in a fragmented industry. This case focuses on sustainable supply chains, growth strategies, and macroeconomics.

Sustainability Amidst Uncertainty: Columbia Forest Products' Pursuit of Sustainability in a Changing Market (2009 oikos Award 3rd Place)

The case is designed to highlight decisions related to strategy, adverse industry reactions, public policy and health claims. In addition, it provides an example of a product developed through biomimicry.

Tropical Salvage's Growth Strategy: From Recession to Expansion (2011 oikos Award 3rd Place)

This case study provides students with the opportunity to analyze a social enterprise operating in an intensely competitive global industry.


Case Videos

Hopworks Urban Brewery: A Case of Sustainable Beer

Grameen Intel: Business Model Canvas

Burgerville: Instilling a Sustainable Culture

Portland Roasting: Farm-Friendly Direct