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EGOS: Sub-theme 71: Social Impact Evaluation: The Technical and Sociopolitical Challenges of Accountability

  • 1.  EGOS: Sub-theme 71: Social Impact Evaluation: The Technical and Sociopolitical Challenges of Accountability

    Posted 16 days ago

    Dear colleagues,


    We would like to call your attention to our sub-theme on Social Impact Evaluation at next year's EGOS Colloquium, July 4–6, 2019 in Edinburgh.


    Sub-theme 71: Social Impact Evaluation: The Technical and Sociopolitical Challenges of Accountability



    Alnoor Ebrahim - Tufts University, USA

    Karen Maas - Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands

    Jonatan Pinkse - University of Manchester, United Kingdom


    With the help of:

    Greg Molecke – University of Exeter, United Kingdom


    The full version of our call is here:



    But, to give you the brief highlights:


    Our sub-theme starts from the premises that:

    • Addressing the twenty-first century's grand societal challenges will require an ability to measure and deliver social impact. 
    • Further, policymakers, civil society, and businesses are increasingly concerned with how to hold organizations accountable for their social impact.

    Next, we identify why social impact assessments are useful and important, including:

    • judging the legitimacy of an organization within society,
    • meeting stakeholder expectations and gaining resources,
    • monitoring and improving social performance.

    We then observe that some of the core challenges related to social impact evaluation:

    • it is an ambiguous and contested concept,
    • neither theory nor practice has been able to establish a unit of measurement or common convention by which social impact can be measured,
    • many social impact evaluation regimes are criticized as being ultimately immeasurable, irrelevant, imprudent, or incomplete.

    This brings us to the central challenge and discussion for our sub-theme: measuring social impact is not merely a technical endeavour but also a socio-political one. What matters to one actor or stakeholder may differ substantially from what matters to another, leading to the challenge of diverse and sometimes conflicting demands for accountability (Ebrahim, 2003).

    The goal of our sub-theme, then, is to facilitate a conversation on questions such as:

    • What does 'social impact' look like and what gives it meaning? What forms of impact are currently best understood, most widely practiced, or convergent and where is it most often unrecognized, contested, ambiguous or divergent?
    • How do we address the methodological challenges and limitations in current social impact evaluations and bridge the practice-theory gap?
    • What happens when social impact evaluations cannot or do not meet the needs or expectations of organizations or their stakeholders? How do individuals or organizations negotiate meaningful evaluations?
    • What institution-level developments are currently under way for establishing norms and regimes for impact measurement? What is the "dark side" or potential negative consequences of such normative convergence?
    • What tensions intersect with the practice of evaluating social impact? What role do social impact evaluations play in navigating tensions and, conversely, how do these tensions impact social impact evaluations?
    • What role do social impact evaluations have in organizational reputation, legitimacy, and resource acquisition? How is the marketization and professionalization of the third sector changing social impact accounts and performance assessment?
    • What is the broader role of social impact as a construct to structure political, civil, and relational roles and systems which address societies social needs? What role does social impact evaluation play in democratic accountability and civil and global governance?


    Given the emerging and multi-disciplinary nature of this topic we are open to a range of different methodologies (e.g. qualitative or quantitative analysis, experimental studies, mixed-method approaches, ethnographic and historical methods) and disciplinary backgrounds including (social) entrepreneurship, economics, philanthropy, development studies, (critical) accountancy, anthropology, political science, organizational studies and sociology.

    Deadline for submission of short papers (3,000 words or less):  Monday, January 14, 2019


    We hope to receive you best work on this important topic!


    Alnoor, Karen, Jonatan and Greg







    Jonatan Pinkse | Professor of Strategy, Innovation & Entrepreneurship

    Associate Head of Research | Innovation, Management & Policy Division
    Associate Editor | Business and Society | Organization and Environment
    Chair | Academy of Management ONE Division

    Alliance Manchester Business School | The University of Manchester | 1.1, Denmark Building | Denmark Road | Manchester M13 9NG | +44 (0) 161 275 7375 | E-mail jonatan.pinkse@manchester.ac.uk

    www.jonatanpinkse.com |@jonatanpinkse | www.linkedin.com/in/jonatanpinkse | www.researchgate.net/profile/Jonatan_Pinkse