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Social Outcomes Conference 2021

Due to COVID-19 meeting and travelling restrictions, the conference will take place online. However, we expect to be able to offer a small number of in-person places to those wishing to attend the conference in Oxford. This will be subject to UK COVID-19 restrictionsRegister now to be notified when tickets become available end of June. If you have any questions, please get in touch at

Event dates and session times are currently displayed based on Europe/London timezone

Theme: Government, business and civil society collaboration in places

Social levelling-up: the role of cross-sector partnerships, place and devolution in addressing social disparity between regions

Theme: Outcomes-based contracting

International perspectives on outcomes-based partnerships

Theme: Procurement and social value

Transforming public procurement? Issues of culture, outcomes, transparency, and learning in the UK Government's post-Brexit public procurement law reform proposals

Measuring what counts in order to make markets work for people

Measurement matters for policy and policy matters for well-being. Professor Stiglitz and colleagues have long argued that standard economic measurements, such as gross domestic product (GDP), mislead policy-makers to the true health of our economies and societies. Their critique is that there is a gap between the image provided by macro-economic statistics on one side, and people’s perceptions of their own conditions and of society as whole on the other.  

When policy-makers concentrate on the wrong metrics it has the potential for inadequate policy choices to be made, with potentially severe and long-lasting consequences for many. As Professor Stiglitz has argued: If we measure the wrong thing, we will do the wrong thing. If our measures tell us everything is fine when it really isn’t, we will be complacent. Getting the measurement right – or at least a lot better – is of crucial importance. It is only by having better metrics that truly reflect people’s lives that we will be able to design and implement better policies.  

In this keynote address Professor Stiglitz will move beyond GDP to present a bold agenda to assess societal well-being. Presenting findings from a decade’s work by the High-Level Expert Group (HLEG) on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress at the OECD, Professor Stiglitz will outline how a dashboard of indicators can reveal who is benefitting from growth, whether that growth is environmentally sustainable, how people feel about their lives, what factors contribute to an individual’s or a country’s success. Many of these themes are summarised in his co-authored book Measuring What Counts: The Global Movement for Well-Being. 

Panel discussion

The keynote address will be followed by reflections from a panel of distinguished experts which will include perspectives from academia, economics, government and international organisations. 

Our respondent  panellists will offer reflections as to whether the vision articulated by Professor Stiglitz is moving us in the right direction to assess the true health of economies and societies. 

The panel will also share practical insights of how policy implementation might be affected by this approach; how does a dashboard of indicators relate to meso and micro policy  decisions? The panel will  explore how governments and their partners in other organisations  can  support this agenda, and what can be done at the micro and meso levels to support the work that Professor Stiglitz and other advocates of his vision are doing  at the macro level.

Theme: Outcomes-based contracting

International Public Management Journal special issue symposium

Theme: Government, business and civil society collaboration in places

Together or apart: how should non-state work with the state to improve social outcomes?


Hack & Learn show and tell


Theme: Procurement and social value

Adventures in awarding social outcomes contracts

Theme: Outcomes-based contracting

Children’s services in Europe: using social impact bonds to commission preventative services

Theme: Outcomes measurement

Measuring impact: trade-offs and accountability

Theme: Outcomes-based contracting

Big picture - Art & science: making sense of the global evidence on outcomes-based contracting approaches

Theme: Outcomes-based contracting

Shifting narratives and logics for the use of social impact bonds

Theme: Outcomes-based contracting

The integration of the user voice in outcomes-based contracts and beyond

Theme: Outcomes orientation

Outcomes for institutional reform

Theme: Procurement and social value

Public procurement & social value

Closing remarks by our Director

Theme: Government, business and civil society collaboration in places

Fancy footwork: should government and business be waltzing or fencing?

Covid-19 has accelerated the trend of business becoming more attentive to creating positive environmental and community impact. But who is in the driving seat of this change? Is it up to businesses to decide what is in the public interest? Or must governments work harder to direct and regulate business behaviour? 

Governments are often criticised for a lack of agility and dynamism. There is a fear that they will stifle the efforts of businesses, whose high productivity, so effective at generating financial returns, could be put towards generating social and environmental returns too. But often, governments have been a critical enabler of business productivity. Many highly profitable industries, including some that produce positive social and environmental returns (such as renewable energy), have relied heavily on government support in their nascence. Does that give governments the right to a seat at the boardroom table? 

The Government Outcomes Lab at Oxford's Blavatnik School of Government will host a discussion to close the Social Outcomes Conference 2021, which will explore these thorny questions. We will help you to answer: what should you be demanding from your government in a world where business claims to act in public, as well as private, interests?