Accountability for Social Impact

Organisation Studies

Speaker:Greg molecke, Grenoble School of Management
Date: Wednesday 31 January 2018
Time: 13:30
Location: Building One, Pearson Teaching Room

Further details

To fulfill external accountability expectations, social impact measurement has become an important practice for social enterprises. Yet, the ambiguity around social impact and its measurement leads to a friction among stakeholders involved in a social enterprise. Based on interviews with small-to-medium-sized social enterprises, this paper investigates how social entrepreneurs handle the increasing pressure to measure social impact with formal methodologies. This study found that the at-hand resources available to create accounts of social impact played a large role in how social entrepreneurs negotiate what types of data and ideas may be drawn upon in their accounts.

This paper draws from bricolage theory to understand social impact accounts as opportunistic but collaborative negotiations among social entrepreneurs and their funders to make do within both material and ideational (theoretical/methodological) constraints. Bricolage is the ‘process through which people use and combine the various resources they have “at hand” as a means of finding workable – if typically imperfect – solutions that can “make-do” (Baker, 2007: 697). While traditional bricolage approaches typically center around at-hand material resources (i.e. physical items and available data), our work shows how bricolage also occurs with ideational resources (i.e. the myths and theories people employ to determine the possible and proper value and uses for materials and information). For example, our interviews suggested that conventional formal theories of social impact assessment (e.g. SROI, logic models, or experimental methods) were largely unused among smaller social entrepreneurs. Instead, social enterprises used interrelated pieces of operational data (the material resources) and theories of impact and assessment methodologies (the ideational resources) to bricolage together accounts of their social impact.