A new model of social enterprise, the social business, is gradually spreading across many countries, fostering the expansion of the Third sector. Recently, the debate around it has increased, also thanks to the intervention of the 2006 Nobel Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus, founder of the microcredit institution Grameen Bank, who is one of the major advocates of the social business.
This business model, which stands out because through its operations it primarily pursues a social aim, rather than economic or financial, and its multiple rationales inevitably raise relevant economic and managerial questions. Among them, I found particularly interesting the investigation of governance issues in such organizations.
Particularly, this paper examines the board of directors, in the belief of its centrality and criticality as a place where the tension generated by the inherent attempt of concurrently satisfying economic and social objectives is especially revealed and can be effectively managed.
By referring to the case of Italian social cooperatives, a concrete example of social business, I will examine the most relevant aspects of a social business' board; findings will provide evidence of its main features.