No Practice Without Theory



Professor Alex NichollsProfessor of Social Entrepreneurship,Saïd Business School, University of Oxford

Daniel FujiwaraResearcher at London School of Economics





SROI is a practical tool for measuring social value.  Its claim to authority and influence derives from a theoretical framework based on the seven principles of SROI.  Come to this session to hear and discuss academic perspectives on what SROI and the principles mean and how we might improve judgement on materiality and make it easier to increase the rigour of counterfactual assessment.



Daniel Fujiwara Social Value Blog

PowerPoint Presentations:

ALEX NICHOLLS : Accounting as Empowerment 



Session summary:


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

This session concentrated on the theory underpinning the practice of impact measurement. Alex Nicholls spoke about ‘Accounting as Empowerment’. Some of the reasons for why organisations are not taking account of social value that he mentioned were that there is not currently an institutionalised approach to data collection – the sector is very much developing and changing, hence there is no standard, globalised framework akin to that for financial accounting, for example. He also talked on the dangers and important features to be aware of regarding social value; whilst impact measurement is a positive thing because it broadens the range of actors who can determine the value of an outcome beyond those with financial interests, reporting itself can be an exercise in power distribution; it is often powerful actors who determine what is measured. This can lead to a disempowerment of stakeholders.

Daniel Fujiwara spoke on the current ambiguity of the term ‘social value’, and the theoretical challenges involved in aggregating values from different valuation techniques and between different stakeholders. He also discussed two different types of counterfactual and the importance of distinguishing between them – each counterfactual potentially provides a different result.


2. What’s the solution?

Solutions to the above challenges are not straightforward. To avoid disempowerment of stakeholders it is important to continually ask questions about why impacts and outcomes are being measured, who is doing the measurement and for what reason.

Three more principles were proposed to be added to the current seven, to address the theoretical challenges of valuation and counterfactual/deadweight calculations:

Principle 8: An account for social value

Principle 9: A method for aggregating value

Principle 10: A clear, more robust method for counterfactuals


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