The second day of the conference has been jam-packed with excellent sessions, here's an overview of all the sessions and the recordings.
We began the day by asking the question 'If impact bonds are the answer, then what is the question? Ken Moriyama and Kevin Tan both highlighted the important role impact bonds can play in promoting innovation, a sentiment echoed by Alexandra Lebedeva who recently launched the first SIB in Russia, and Nina Zündorf who found that the use of a SIB helped to support new ways of working. We discussed whether IBs should be scaled up, with both Mathilde Pellizzari and Yasuaki Tojo noting challenges in moving from bottom-up approaches to wider system change. As we considered the role of private finance, Ryota Nakamura and others highlighted IBs as a way to promote public-private partnerships. Finally, we looked forward to a future in which IBs could be adapted in different ways to better suit particular contexts.
Concurrently, we compared means and motives for measuring social outcomes. Jo Blundell shared 7 approaches to learning and accountability, whilst John Burgoyne shared the idea that we should be shifting the purpose of measurement from accountability and control to learning and improvement. Rob Wilson also offered the analogy of the PbR provider and commissioner behaviour as a panopticon. We heard about research and evaluation case studies shared as local (to us) as Oxford and as far as Queensland, Australia, a relevant topic for all. Join our brand new Motives for Measurement peer learning group for further discussions.
If impact bonds are the answer, what is the question?
Mix and match: comparing means and motives for measuring social outcomes
In the afternoon we looked at 'growing an ecosystem for outcomes based partnerships'. Louise Savell gave an overview of the kind of ecosystem we want, with a range of partners sharing knowledge and skills. Avnish Gungadurdoos argued that this will require mainstream adoption of outcomes approaches by government. Inga Afanasieva and Radana Crhova provided the perspective of large donor organisations, and Manuela Cleves, Maria Laura Tinelli, James Magowan, Amel Karboul and James Ronicle shared examples of how eco-system building works in practice. They highlighted the importance of government and markets moving together to learn and build capacity. Finally, Mika Pyykkö, Christine Ternent, Abha Thorat-Shah, and Zachary Levey discussed how COVID-19 has affected outcomes approaches, how they are adapting, and how they will be critical to the recovery and rebuilding process in many settings, but that there is more learning to be done.
growing an ecosystem for outcomes based partnerships in unpredictable times
To finish this busy day we looked at outcomes based approaches to skills and employment support services. Alix J. Jansen highlighted the importance of eligibility, flexibility and stepping stones to ensuring that not only those closest to labour market get the benefits of employment programmes. Alec Fraser discussed his work on how the way in which we talk about SIBs affects their implementation. Eleanor Carter and Adam Whitworth examined the UK’s ongoing experimentation in employment support quasi-markets, asking whether we are evolving or merely iterating. Finally, from a practitioner perspective, Richard Johnson noted the importance of good contracting in driving quality and quantity, while Abha Thorat-Shah reflected on the need to be invested in the SIB process, with partners providing checks and balances.
In the other 'Zoom room' we explored emergency responses and government outcomes. Prakhar Misra shared the impact of Covid-19 in India, identifying coercive power, coordination and communication as factors that enabled some states to do better than others. We also heard an overview of how Singapore has faired and why. From macro to micro, we heard from Anne-Marie Carrie and Robbie Smyth about how vulnerable women in Plymouth and Derby (UK) were supported. They argued that outcomes partnerships are a 'gamechanger' and praised the flexibility of the approach. Hortance Manjo also looked at specific cases in the DIB she manages in Cameroon in this time of 'radical uncertainty'. Jesse Hajer raised the critical question of whether the Covid-19 pandemic offered fertile ground for SIBs, much like the post-2008 financial crisis when they emerged, or whether they are on rough terrain if welfare states grow like they did in the post-WWII era.
Outcomes based partnerships for skills and employment support services
Emergency Responses and Government Outcomes
Spotlight on Special Issues
In the short session Spotlight on Special Issues, Alec Fraser, Rob Wilson, Clare FitzGerald, and Mildred Warner showcased academic contributions from 4 academic journal special issues (SOC16, SOC17, SOC18 and a brand new one that is not SOC specific, but related). They also announced an opportunity to submit academic work for similar publication in the future.