chevron icon Twitter logo Facebook logo LinkedIn logo YouTube logo download icon link icon audio icon quote icon posted icon clock icon author icon arrow icon arrow icon plus icon Search icon location icon location icon document icon menu icon plus-alt

Date: Thursday 5 and Friday 6 September 2024

Location: Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford, and online (hybrid conference)

Hosted by: Government Outcomes Lab (GO Lab)

Deadline for call for contributions: 24 March 2024

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 emerging practice across different geographies, disciplines and policy areas.

This year, the Social Outcomes Conference 2024 (SOC24) will take place on 5-6 September 2024. We will host SOC24 as a ‘hybrid’ online/in-person conference. In-person participants will join us at the Blavatnik School of Government in Oxford and virtual participation for our global community will be through Zoom.

Call for contributions

Our annual conference returns, with the continued aim of bringing together the rigour of cutting-edge academic research with an applied, real-world focus and insights from reflective practitioners.

On this page you will find SOC24's key theme & clusters as well as more information on how to submit your proposal. This year we are excited to be introducing a variety of new session formats.

The deadline for submissions was 24 March 2024 12pm UK time. Over the following weeks after the deadline we will review all submissions, and announce the full conference programme in June.

We value diversity and inclusion and are committed to creating a conference where the rich intersection of different voices and backgrounds are prioritised. We encourage applications from individuals and organisations representing a range of backgrounds spanning ethnic, cultural, geographical, and income differences.

The SOC24 Vision & Theme

In a world grappling with unprecedented challenges and near-constant crisis, collaboration is not a luxury but a necessity. At this year’s Social Outcomes Conference we ask how we can foster collaboration and partnership working in a world of increasing uncertainty. In the face of these adversities, accountability, transparency, and trust become more vital than ever, forming the bedrock of cross-sector partnerships aimed at social change. We ask: how can innovative contracting practices contribute to long-term, trust-based relationships? How can we use data not just to measure impact, but to actively drive improvement and hold partners accountable? How can we ensure that marginalised communities are meaningfully involved, not just consulted, in shaping and implementing solutions?

We will bring together the world’s leading researchers, policymakers, and practitioners to share cutting-edge insights and practical strategies for building partnerships that not only deliver social good, but do so with integrity and efficacy.

Our conference theme is:

“Accountability, transparency, & trust in cross-sector partnerships”

Conference clusters

In addition to our conference theme, we are working to bring coherence to conference sessions by working with dedicated ‘clusters’ which build forward on conversations from previous editions of SOC:

Please note the order is not an indication of priority.

This cluster explores how data and measurement can be leveraged to strengthen accountability, transparency, and ultimately, the effectiveness of outcomes partnerships. We welcome submissions addressing:

  • Open data and global coalitions for public good: How can open data empower both implementation partners and beneficiaries, foster collaboration and drive social change? How can we build (international) collaborations to leverage diverse data resources and tackle global challenges?
  • Transforming data into action: How do we implement effective data-driven practices for monitoring progress, measuring success or unintended consequences, and ensuring partners deliver on their commitments?
  • Doing more with less: How can we utilise performance data to better understand outcomes-based contracts and ensure value for money?

This cluster seeks to challenge power dynamics within social outcomes partnerships. We seek to learn about avenues to amplify marginalised voices and embed diversity, equity, and inclusion as the cornerstone of effective collaboration. We particularly invite submissions exploring:

  • Social outcomes for everyone: How can we ensure partnerships deliver not just measurable impact, but tangible benefits for marginalised communities? 
  • Contracts with co-creators and lived experience: How can user voices, world-view, and lived experiences inform the design and implementation of outcomes-based contracts, fostering ownership and trust?

This cluster brings together the latest analysis and insights on public sector contracting arrangements that can underpin purposeful partnerships.  We are especially interested to hear about:

  • Public sector relational contracting: How can we move beyond transactional contracts and build long-term, trust-based relationships with partners, without relinquishing the need for scrutiny and accountability? How can we equip partners with the flexibility and agility to navigate complex challenges?
  • Procurement reimagined: What are cutting-edge procurement practices and innovative contracting models capable of unlocking social value and deliver transformative outcomes?

Besides our overarching theme, areas related to outcomes-based contracting which we are especially interested to hear about include:

  • Fragile contexts and systems strengthening: How are outcomes-based partnerships being used in fragile states? What makes for an effective partnership in contexts that are by definition high-risk and subject to instability? What does a sustainable exit at the end of programme look like?
  • New & bold uses of outcomes-focussed work, including outcomes funds: What is the latest practice at the cutting edge of outcomes-based partnerships? How are outcomes-based partnerships being adopted in new geographies and new policy areas? What is the evidence of their impact?
  • Public sector reform lessons from outcomes-based partnerships: What lessons can we learn from leading practice to inform and catalyse public sector reform efforts?

Across the four thematic clusters, we welcome submissions dealing with any policy area. We are particularly interested to hear about research work and practice focused on:

  • Health and mental health
  • Sport for development
  • Environmental action and tackling climate change
  • Early childhood care and education

Submission details

We encourage submissions from:

  • academics
  • applied researchers
  • policymakers
  • contracting bodies/commissioners
  • providers of social services
  • social investors
  • responsible businesses
  • other stakeholders in the field of social outcomes

Your submission

We encourage submissions from across academia and the practice and policymaking communities. As such, the Call for Contributions is open to both research paper abstracts and proposals for practice-focused presentations.

Your submission is more likely to be successful if it articulates clearly how:

  • it aligns with our overarching theme
  • it links to a thematic cluster
  • it aligns with our stated conference principles
  • it is relevant to cross-sector partnerships or social outcomes

Selected authors will have the opportunity to discuss their research or practical insights at the conference in a variety of engaging and interactive sessions, from deep-dive panel discussions, to roundtables and big picture sessions.

For the first time this year we will also be opening up a number of other formats. You may indicate that you would like to be considered for these alternative formats through an 'opt-in' button as you apply for a conference speaking slot. These new formats are:

Are you involved in an innovative programme or project that is a social outcomes partnership/ social impact bond, or uses results-based financing? This session is an opportunity to raise awareness of the impact of your work and exchange learning with fellow pioneering practitioners.

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.

In this closed-door session we will create a safe, honest and informal space for practitioners and researchers to share their lessons learnt from dealing with mistakes, challenges and failures. We will reflect together on how those experiences have helped shape better practice in outcomes-focused partnerships. Attendance will be limited to those who are also sharing a challenge/failure to ensure a safe environment for honest discussion.

This format is appropriate for academic papers where the authors would like to be considered for inclusion in a themed special issue with the Journal of Strategic Contracting and Negotiation linked to SOC24. We will use this workshop to give more detailed feedback on full papers and will look to prepare a coherent and high-quality submission. If you would like to be considered for this workshop you will be able to ‘opt in’ while applying for another format on the submission form.

Returning after huge success last year, our poster gallery lunch gives individuals, programmes and projects an opportunity to present their work in a visual format. This is a unique opportunity to raise your profile and share work in poster-format to our audience of government advisors, civil servants, academics, and the wider community who work on social outcomes. If successful, this poster will be on display physically in the Inamori Forum and virtually on the SOC24 webpage. This format is appropriate for showcasing: a project/programme’s work or a new piece of research/tool with a bit more detail in a visual format.

For the Social Outcomes Conference we have four guiding principles which we encourage applicants to consider when making their submission. These conference principles indicate priorities for SOC24.

  1. Fresh perspectives & innovation: we wish to hear from alternative voices and perspectives – that may disrupt assumptions and bring fresh views. We continue to seek insights from a wider range of voices: from different practice backgrounds, distinct leadership voices, and different national, regional, social, academic, and professional contexts. We are keen to hear about innovations, examples of building on the traditional foundations to create something fresh, and experiments or case studies that have yet to be studied in detail.
  2. Evidence-based: as part of the University of Oxford, we are committed to academic excellence in all our work. For SOC24 this means an expectation for all insights to be grounded in evidence.
  3. Diversity: we value diversity and inclusion and are committed to creating a conference where the rich intersection of different voices and backgrounds are prioritised. We encourage applications from individuals and organisations representing a range of backgrounds spanning ethnic, cultural, geographical, and income differences.
  4. Pragmatic & constructive: we encourage all contributions to bring critical, thoughtful perspectives while balancing this with being constructive – making a positive contribution. We believe in bringing together academia and policy practice – making sure both are helping address and inform the other.

Beyond formal conference proceedings, there are two other opportunities to share your work with our community.

Engaging with Evidence series

The Engaging with Evidence series provides an additional opportunity to explore and expand upon topics that could not be accommodated in the main conference agenda.

Peer learning groups

At the Government Outcomes Lab, we coordinate a range of geographical and thematically focused peer learning groups. These groups cover a variety of topics, but their overarching aim is to support learning and knowledge sharing among those seeking to deliver improved social outcomes through cross-sector partnerships. They are:

    • Oxford Procurement of Government Outcomes (POGO) Club
    • INDIGO Peer Learning Group
    • The Research Forum on Outcomes in Cross-Sector Collaboration
    • Value in Public Finance

For any questions regarding academic papers submissions or to discuss your proposals for practice-focused presentations, please contact us at the Government Outcomes Lab,

If you are a policymaker or practitioner looking to share insights from your work but feel unsure about how best to format these at the conference, do get in touch with us at to discuss your ideas.