Winter 2008

Volume 6, Number 1

Traditionally, corporate social responsibility efforts serve a business’ local community. But today’s multinational corporations—headquarters in one country, manufacturing facilities in another, satellite offices in several more—are international in influence and impact. “The Responsibility Paradox,” the winter 2009 cover story of Stanford Social Innovation Review, predicts that the European Union will set the tone for product and environmental regulations, the United States will lead on governance, and international NGOs will drive human rights and labor laws.

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Social Innovations

In Microfinance, Clients Must Come First

By Srikant M. Datar, Marc J. Epstein, & Kristi Yuthas 19

Few microfinance institutions articulate what, exactly, their ultimate goals are and how to achieve them. If the goal of microfinance is to alleviate poverty, the authors say, then MFIs should focus on helping their clients build successful enterprises, rather than on making more and bigger loans.


Getting Human Rights Right

By Jenik Radon, Margo Tatgenhorst Drakos, & Tarek Farouk Maassarani

Corporations that violate human rights not only inflict suffering, but also hurt their bottom line. The authors suggest five principles that corporations can follow to improve their human rights footprint.

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Cultivate Your Ecosystem

By Paul N. Bloom & J. Gregory Dees 1

Social entrepreneurs not only must understand the broad environment in which they work, but also must shape those environments to support their goals, when feasible. Borrowing insights from the field of ecology, the authors offer an ecosystems framework to help social entrepreneurs create long-lasting and significant social change.

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The Responsibility Paradox

By Gerald F. Davis, Marina V.N. Whitman, & Mayer N. Zald 5

Multinational corporations are in a quandary: Stakeholders are imposing higher standards than ever, but businesses are confused about what their global social responsibilities actually are.

Field Report

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Give Away the Store

By Suzie Boss 1

Why Portland’s ReBuilding Center refuses to franchise, but is happy to share.

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Equal Partners

By Erin Palm

How an ecotourism company and a native community share power in Peru.

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Smart Soaps

By Corey Binns

The Population Media Center mixes science with soap operas to protect public health.

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Social Innovations

Competing for a Change

By Leslie Berger 5

How Changemakers’ “collaborative competitions” harness the wisdom of crowds.

Case Study

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Curbing Mission Creep

By Kim Jonker & William F. Meehan III

Despite temptations to broaden its focus, the Rural Development Institute has remained single-mindedly devoted to its mission. As a result, the organization has helped 400 million poor farmers around the world take ownership of some 270 million acres of land – all on a modest budget.



Failing Well

By Judith M. Gueron

Foundations need to make more of the right kinds of mistakes.


Evaluation Blues

By Laura Silverstein & Erin J. Maher 3

How accountability requirements hurt small, innovative programs the most.


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Old Dogs, New Opinions

By Alana Conner

Contrary to stereotypes, people grow more liberal and tolerant as they age.


Condescending Coverage

By Alana Conner

Newspapers do a poor job of reporting on the nonprofit sector.


The Stingy Hour

By Alana Conner

Workers paid by the hour are less likely to volunteer than are salaried employees.


Destination Unknown

By Ellen Konar, Sheryl Sandberg, & Melissa Brown 2

Donors’ money isn’t going where they think it is.


Greening Supply Chains

By Alana Conner

When scarcity sets in, market forces can lead corporations to adopt green practices.

Global Issues

Is This the Silver Bullet?

By Alana Conner

Why narrowing the gap between the rich and poor could alleviate many social problems.


Social Innovations

Review: Break Through

Review By Sacha Zimmerman

Small-scale efforts won't solve the global warming crisis.


Review: Beyond the White House

Review By Joshua Weissburg

Jimmy Carter details his ongoing efforts to make a difference as John Q. Citizen.


Review: Fugitive Denim

Review By Laura Commike

From field to factory, Snyder reveals the real lives behind the making of a pair of jeans.

Migrants to Immigrants
Jorge G. Castañeda

Ex Mex

Review By Catherine DiBenedetto


Social Innovations

15 Minutes with Thomas Vander Ark

By Eric Nee

SSIR Managing Editor Eric Nee spoke with the X Prize Foundation’s president, Thomas Vander Ark, about how prizes can stimulate social innovation.

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