I’m pleased to present this special issue to readers of Nonprofit Policy Forum. The issue is special is two respects. Principally, the research papers in this issue focus exclusively on the subject of public policy as it relates to Work Integration Social Enterprises (WISEs), a class of social enterprises devoted to including marginalized workers in the labor force. The papers derive from the ICSEM project, a worldwide research project to identify, analyze and compare social enterprise models across countries, regions and fields of service. ICSEM engages some 230 researchers in over 55 countries, in all regions of the world. (See http://www.iap-socent.be/icsem-project.) Under the skilled guidance of our special issue editors, Kate Cooney, Mary O’Shaughnessy and Marthe Nyssens, the five papers here document the policy environments and manifestations of WISEs in five diverse countries: the USA, Ireland, Japan, Switzerland and Austria. I leave it to the special editors’ introductory essay to familiarize the reader with the nuances of these different contexts and the policy and management challenges faced by this relatively new and increasingly important segment of the social sector around the world. I will only point out that the relevance of labor market issues is not lost to the citizens of the U.S., Europe and elsewhere, in light of recent developments such as the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union (Brexit) and the 2016 U.S. Elections.
Indeed, the dramatic turn of the U.S. elections is the basis of our special Feature section in this issue. The Feature consists of commentaries by leading U.S. nonprofit and policy scholars and officials. Three commentaries are offered here, by university professors Alan Abramson and Lester Salamon, by the president and vice president of the National Council of Nonprofits, Tim Delaney and David Thompson, respectively; and by C. Eugene Steuerle, a senior scholar at the Urban Institute, a leading think tank in Washington, DC. The sea changes signaled by the election present both grave challenges and opportunities for U.S. nonprofits, and raise issues that we will continue to address in the coming months and years.
Finally, I am very pleased to announce that the Urban Institute is joining us as a sponsor of Nonprofit Policy Forum, helping us to assure that NPF continues to be available as an open access journal into the indefinite future.
Enjoy this issue and please consider contributing to the conversation in future issues of the journal.