Social Value: Cultural and Political Issues



Ken ItoJapan Advisor, Asian Venture Philanthropy Network

Hugo Narrillos RouxFounder of The SROI Network, Spain

Terence YuenFounder of Hong Kong Institute of Social Impact Analysts

Marieke Sand: Social Worker, Netherlands

Marlies Teunis: Social Worker, Netherlands




Whilst social value is becoming a truly international movement, an increasingly common challenge is how we can wrestle with the cultural and political differences between networks and communities.

Join this session to hear from the representatives of SROI Networks in Japan, Hong Kong, The Netherlands and Spain sharing their experiences on how social value has become more established in their country.  There will be a focus on the way social value can be integrated into decision making at the organisational level.



Hugo Narrillos Roux  RED SROI ESPAÑA – The SROI Network, Spain

PowerPoint Presentations:


HUGO NARRILLOS ROUX : Opportunities and Challenges

KEN ITO Cultural and Political Issues

MARIEKE & MARLIES : Social Value

TERENCE YUEN : Promoting Social Impact Assessment in Hong Kong

Session summary:


1. Why are organisations not taking enough account of social value?

Cultural and political issues around social value are some of the most interesting, but also complex and diffuse problems facing the sector. Although we live in a globalised economy, national identities and differing culture can prove instrumental in how popular an uptake of SROI and social value measurement is. On a general level, participants confirmed a general scepticism and misunderstanding of social impact/value in their separate countries – e.g. an attitude that social value measurement is only for third sector companies, a perception that it is overexpensive and takes too long, and confusion over the plethora of evaluation methods and differences between them. In addition, language can be a barrier due to technical terminology and translating difficulties.

A further issue becoming increasingly urgent is how to involve a range of stakeholders from the outset of our community in shaping the future path and opportunities. We need to make sure that this is not a process exclusively for privileged classes, and wider stakeholder engagement is important to prevent this. Grassroots projects and more deprived communities do have power and entrepreneurial spirit; we need to work with them to understand social value and incorporate their ideas.


2. What’s the solution?

To solve these issues, the point was generally agreed that more and wider case studies are required to change the general perception of social value and SROI. In addition, a regular roll-out of the operation models with consistent structures in place for training/accreditation/network formation would be useful to enhance awareness and presence, both nationally and internationally. Regulation, such as the Social Value Act, is a useful way of forcing social value into the mainstream consciousness of a country’s organisations, although does come with its own caveats and set of problems.


3. What’s your organisation doing?

Even just the presence of the affiliated networks themselves enables a grassroots infrastructure to spread the message in a consistent and regular way.

 Speaker Discussion Points:

Hugo responded to some initial questions before the conference.  See below for his answers:

  1. Why are organisations not taking enough account of social value? I can think of a couple of reasons for that : a) investors are happy with the information given to them by Financial Accounting and don´t want to spend much time on measurement methods that do not give an “exact” figure. I have always said this is especially true in countries such as Spain where our academic education tends to be too focused on exactness. b) At a time where inequality is commonplace, an organisation prefers to remain on the comfort zone and do nothing rather than measuring social issues that might unearth their own social “mistakes”.  
  2. What’s the solution? I guess one of the nost useful instruments is Regulation, such as the UK´s Social Value Act. Think about environmental issues : every single company in the world now thinks in environmental terms, and there are regulations in every country. Why don´t we have the same for social value? It could be started at a supranational level (think European law), and then descended into each country. But not only for the so-called “social action” or purely social matters, but on the companies´ main activities.
  3. What is your organisation doing? We are a very young organisation. We have just been awarded the go-ahead by the State 3 months ago. We have already run a Seminar on SROI, and going to run at least 2 more this year. Our members are very active on their own grounds on the promotion of measuring social value. Our very first aim is to spread the idea.
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