Social Entrepreneurship

Research insights on socio-economic and organizational developments in social forestry enterprises in Michoacán, Mexico and the contributions of community-based natural resource management systems to development and conservation.



This article presents research on a well-known case in the community forestry and commons literature from Mexico. It provides an interesting case as the indigenous members that hold the rights for the commons and  are also the members of the enterprise that transforms and markets goods from the commons. We argue that the impetus for such a strategy is one way to confront internal and external factors.

Data and Analysis


Drawing upon the transcripts of 40 interviews undertaken during 2006 which are analyzed using a framework developed from the social community-based and indigenous enterprise literature, we aim to understand factors that increase chances of success in community-based enterprises. Our goal was to utilize this framework to analyze the San Juan Forest Enterprise and understand its emergence and formation as a long-standing community-based enterprise that intersects with a commons.




We found that by starting from the enterprise literature it was possible to consider the enterprise from the perspective of a regulatory framework rather than the poles of dependency and modernization theories in which much commons work has been based.Enterprise and commons intersect when both are guided by core cultural values and the enterprise can become a new site for the creation of social and cultural cohesion. We also found that there were a number of necessary conditions for commons-based community-enterprises to retain internal and external legitimacy, namely:
1. Leadership representative of the broad social mission rooted in the customary institutions, values and norms of the community;
2. Accountability of enterprise leaders to the memberships they represent; and
3. A close adherence to the political goals of the community as a whole.




In the Americas there is a steady increase in the lands and waters being managed by Indigenous Peoples. An engagement between commons and community-based enterprise scholars could provide needed support for the emergence of community-based enterprises that sustainably manage commons and provide the means to relieve systemic poverty of indigenous communities.

The full text journal article is available at International Journal of the Commons For more information please contact

Role of linkages and diversity of partnerships in a Mexican community- based forest enterprise



This paper present research identifying and describing the pervasiveness and importance of various types of institutional and organization interactions across multiple levels for the management of a community forest enterprise. In addition, the paper brings a new approach to analyze how indigenous and other rural communities are “opting in” to the global economy through a diversity of partnerships and a complexity of interactions across organizational levels.


Case, Methods and Data


  The paper analyzes a long-standing case in Michoacán, Mexico, the San Juan Nuevo (SJN) enterprise, a community-based system with a multiplicity of actors, objectives, and partners. Information was collected through 100 semi-structured interviews. By presenting and discussing the main community-based development strategy within the overall sociopolitical context and achievements of the case, we attempt to understand the complexity of cross-scale institutional and organizational linkages and their role in sustainable resource management.



SJN enterprise had linkages with some 22 major partners over the years across four levels of organization: local, state, federal, and international. Cross-scale partnerships were not merely important, but essential for the overall success of the enterprise in the face of uncertainty over resource ownership and lack of legal jurisdiction. These diverse partnerships and interactions enabled robust institutional structures, making possible the development of linkages to help conserve the resource.Concisely, there is the need to recognize the multiple roles of partnerships, from business networking to research and training, which can help to unpack different kinds of capacity building. Actors and organizations at various levels can influence management practices in diverse ways and help to find a balance between local livelihoods and larger conservation needs.


Representation of some important cross-scale linkages in the community-based resource management system of Nuevo San Juan

Emergence and evolution of linkages across time in the community and the enterprise

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