SOS Group: Scaling a Social Enterprise Conglomerate


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  • Product Description

    By 2016, SOS Group, the largest social enterprise group in France, was facing new challenges. In November 2015, the group had released its strategic goals for 2020. It aimed to double its turnover and headcounts by that time, which would make SOS Group one of the largest social enterprise groups in Europe and in the world. Jean-Marc Borello, founder of the organization, knew SOS Group faced the choices of growing organically through acquisition across activities, as well as in France or globally. By 2016, SOS Group already operated in 20 countries, and was contemplating entering 10 new countries by 2020. It also considered entering new sectors, such as culture. While Borello thought that aggressive growth was needed in the current context, some within the group wondered if that was the right way for SOS Group to measure and scale its social impact. Compounding these issues, Borello, whose opportunistic acquisition strategy had shaped SOS Group throughout its life, was considering retirement in the coming years. Under these circumstances, how could SOS Group achieve its strategic goals, while keeping its key values intact at a time when its governance would also change?

    Learning Objective:
    Understand (1) the rationale of a specific hybrid social enterprise group in France and in other countries, its expansion strategy, its organizational culture, and the continuity of its management; and (2) the scaling challenges and opportunities faced by social enterprises and how they can best handle them. 

  • Other Details

    HKS Case Number: 2140.0
    Case Author: Julie Battilana, Vincent Dessain, Jerome Lenhardt
    Faculty Lead: Julie Battilana
    Pages (incl. exhibits): 23
    Publication Date: August 30, 2017
    Setting: France
    Language: English
    Funding: Harvard Business School
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