Balancing Consistency and Flexibility: Challenges and Opportunities in Conducting a Cross-Country Longitudinal Study with Youth Participants in Work-Integration Social Enterprises




Longitudinal studies; work-integration social enterprises (WISE); youth participants / Étude longitudinale; entreprises sociales d’insertion par le travail (ESIT); jeunes participants


Longitudinal studies conducted within the social economy have the potential to provide useful insights by tracing participant experiences and illuminating long-term outcomes of program interventions. However, longitudinal studies are challenging, not only due to retention of participants, but also when a longitudinal study covers a broad geographic area. The authors collaborated in a five-year pan-Canadian longitudinal study following youth participants in work-integration social enterprise (WISE) training programs. This article traces the experiences of study teams in Ontario and Greater Vancouver, providing accounts of the approaches and challenges encountered when working in geographically and socio-economically diverse locales over time with youth participants facing social marginalization. This article highlights three aspects of data collection—recruitment, retention, and research methods and logistics—offering insights into how each team devised its own strategies to fit with local circumstances while maintaining consistency across research sites.


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Author Biographies

Lindsay Simpson, Simon Fraser University

Lindsay Simpson holds a MA in Anthropology from the faculty of Sociology and Anthropology of Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Dr, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6. Email:

Annie Luk, University of Toronto

Annie Luk holds a PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto, 252 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1V6. Email:

Peter Hall, Simon Fraser University

Peter Hall is Professor of Urban Studies at Simon Fraser University, 515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver BC V6B 5K3. Email:

Marcelo Vieta, University of Toronto

Marcelo Vieta is Associate Professor in the Program in Adult Education and Community Development, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto, 252 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1V6. Email:     

Andrea Chan, University of Toronto

Andrea Chan (She/Her), Research Associate, Troost Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering, University of Toronto. 55 St. George Street | Toronto, ON | M5S 0C9