Welcome to SOC22 - our annual convening of the world's leading researchers, policymakers and practitioners working to improve social outcomes. The Social Outcomes Conference (SOC22) will be a hybrid event. You can register to join us online (free to join) or in person at the Blavatnik School of Government.
The Social Outcomes Conference is the annual convening of the world's leading researchers, policymakers and practitioners working to improve social outcomes. As in previous years, the conference will feature discussions on the latest thinking and findings from academic research alongside insights from the emerging practice across different geographies, disciplines and policy areas.
The key to this conference is to bring valuable expertise from the field into the walls of academia and to allow a space for those in the public, private and voluntary sectors to share and build on existing knowledge.
After two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, countries around the world have seen a huge increase in both state intervention and government outsourcing, and debates around cross-sector partnerships, procurement and governance have never felt so pertinent. At a key time where we have the opportunity to “build back better” and redesign our policy tools and instruments to suit a more inclusive and sustainable system, is it time to rethink how power is shared and collaboration is managed at both local and national levels?
Picking up on debates from last year’s Social Outcomes Conference around the relationship between public and private interests, we will delve deeper into the challenges and values of collaboration between government and the social and private sectors to improve social outcomes.
Of particular interest is the role of government in bringing partners together, to complement each other and collaborate in a meaningful way. Whether we consider public and private interests to be divided or intertwined, governments have a clear role in communicating goals, shaping sustainable solutions, and galvanising experimentation across sectors to solve some of the biggest social problems. It is vital to consider how governments in both high- and low-income countries might foster better partnerships to tackle regional disparities, promote place-based programmes and empower local citizens. Such governance is not easy to achieve, and questions remain around accountability and risk. Hence, SOC22 is guided by the following question:
To explore this year's key question, we will bring leading experts from across sectors to speak on the following four core themes:
We are keen to investigate the governance of partnerships between the private, public and social sectors at the regional and local level. We are looking for examples from across the world of local cross-sector partnerships and place-based initiatives, to gather lessons on how governments are working with other sectors at the local level to improve social and economic outcomes. This includes looking at how governments are co-ordinating public service delivery in complex local systems, how they are engaging with ‘responsible business’, how cross-sector partnerships are enabling the regeneration of places, and how these partnerships are delivering broader social value.
Nested within wider debates around the value of cross-sector partnerships is outcomes-based contracting. These contracts can take a variety of forms and names, including social impact bonds (SIBs), social outcomes contracts (SOCs) or payment by results (PbR). What remains integral to the success of all these financing tools is effective cross-sector collaboration. This year, we are interested in delving deeper into the key mechanisms of these partnerships. Looking particularly at the involvement of the private sector in these types of contracts, we want to explore whether the private player can indeed help to seed much sought-after, but seldom-found, collaboration around complex needs. We are also interested in what new types of partnership and private investment might offer above and beyond practices that are already well-established.
Effective public procurement may be an important factor in the improvement of social outcomes and many things are demanded of our public procurement systems. Around the world, new promises are being about better government contracts and/or achieving ‘additional’ social benefits beyond the core goods, works, and services being procured. We are keen to gather evidence and explore the use of public procurement to improve social outcomes, whether directly through contracting for social services and/or indirectly through policies variously labelled as social value, community benefit clauses, broader outcomes, socially responsible public procurement etc. Many such policies are already being implemented, so we also keen to better understand this implementation and how learning may be shared.
How states reshape and rebuild their economies post-COVID, and how they finance this process, are key discussions that will shape our societies and economies over the coming years. We have an opportunity to rethink how value is created and distributed, and how to reconcile and successfully pursue productivity alongside socio-spatial inclusion. Public money will play a significant role here, to “build back better”. This requires a focus on innovation, longer term benefits and outcomes, and better utilisation of the private sector. During the conference, we want to explore themes linked to measurement including innovation, public value and market creation.
Provided Covid-19 regulations allow it, we hope to host this conference as a hybrid conference, as we did for the Social Outcomes Conference (SOC21), which took place September 2021. This will involve both streaming the conference online and offering a number of in-person places for those who wish to attend the conference at the Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford. For SOC21, we took great precautionary measures to ensure that the event was covid-free and with the help of our fantastic AV team, we were able to ensure that both online and offline audiences enjoyed meaningful engagement.
As well as receiving world-renowned Economist Professor Joseph Stiglitz as keynote speaker, we welcomed 117 speakers from 29 countries and hundreds of participants who joined us both online and in Oxford. We were blown away by the excellent quality of discussions over the two days . You can find links to the highlights, recordings and slides on our SOC21 webpage here.
We are delighted to announce that Professor Julie Battilana will deliver the Social Outcomes Conference 2022 keynote speech on Thursday 8 September.
Julie Battilana is a professor of organisational behavior and social innovation at the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School, where she is also the founder and faculty chair of the Social Innovation and Change Initiative. Her most recent book, Power, for All, offers a timely, democratised vision of power. Everyone can understand how power operates, and research shows that once you understand, you can take action to improve life for yourself and others.
With cross-sector collaborations being central to this year’s Social Outcomes Conference, Battilana’s research will resonate with many participants. Power, for All is an essential guide to understanding, navigating, and sharing power in our relationships, organisations, and society.
As always the conference will feature a mix of different types of sessions, alongside opportunities for informal discussions and both virtual and in-person networking.
Big picture sessions explore broad, cross-cutting topics. For example, how government are using public procurement systems to promote social objectives.
Roundtable sessions provide an open space for participants to engage in discussion, share knowledge and learn from others' experiences. For example, learning from international perspectives on outcomes-based partnerships.
Deep dive sessions put specific areas of research and practice into focus. For example, looking at using social impact bonds to commission preventative services tackling children's welfare.