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Social Outcomes Conference 2019

Professor Mildred Warner SIB Conf
Professor Mildred Warner speaking at the 2018 conference

Date 5 Sep 2019 - 6 Sep 2019

Location Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford, United Kingdom

In pursuit of social outcomes: the international conference on impact bonds, outcomes contracts, and beyond

Hosted by the Government Outcomes Lab at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford, in partnership with the Policy Innovation and Evaluation Research Unit at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Newcastle University Business School


Governments and international donor agencies around the world have become increasingly focused on outcomes – the positive results that programmes produce in the lives of service users and citizens – rather than the volume or quality of activity. This ‘outcomes-based’ model encompasses a range of approaches. The conference will focus on models that encourage collaboration across sectors, such as outcomes-based commissioning, social impact bonds, outcomes funds, and place-based approaches. 

We are interested in exploring how well these approaches work in practice. We want to strengthen the understanding of when and how this focus on outcomes can be effective for delivering public services, and whether it can be more effective than other options. We aim to ensure that this emerging knowledge is used to equip government policy-makers with more and better tools to tackle complex social issues. 

In keeping with the 2018 conference, we will once again bring together the most distinguished academic and practitioner voices from different countries and disciplines for an in-depth exploration of the practice and evidence base around the implementation of outcomes-based models of public service provision from across the world.  

The conference will be of interest to academics, researchers, practitioners and policy-makers and will include keynote speeches from international experts and interactive group sessions alongside more traditional academic paper presentations. 

Keynote speaker 

We are excited to welcome Stefan Dercon to our conference as our keynote speaker. Stefan is Professor of Economic Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government and the Economics Department, and a Fellow at Jesus College. He is also Director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies. Prior to this he was the Chief Economist of the Department of International Development (DFID) and has held positions at the University of Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), the Catholic University of Leuven, and WIDER (Helsinki), part of the United Nations University. 

Programme overview

Here is an overview of our conference programme. In the coming weeks we will be announcing the full programme and many more speakers from a range of countries, bringing expertise from academia, government, the voluntary sector, and the private sector.

Day 1 


Keynote address 

Stefan Dercon - Professor of Economic Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government and the Economics Department

Session I - Plenary session - Evidence and experience of impact bonds to date


Session II - Parallel sessions - These sessions will focus on topics such as SIBs and the welfare state, listening to the voice of the service users, and looking at the impact bond experience in different countries and contexts. 

Session III - Parallel sessions - These sessions with explore a range of topics such as hybridity, procurement law and how outcomes approaches translate in different countries and contexts.  

Session IV - Plenary session - Can't get you out of my head: Overly fixated on the SIB tool?


Day 2 


Bold & Bright: Innovators' exchange - this session will showcase some of the most innovative applications of outcomes-based approaches from across the world, celebrate success and facilitate a conversation around what it takes to implement cutting-edge ideas using impact bonds and other types of outcomes-financing

Session I - Plenary session - Lessons for the impact bonds field from the public-private partnerships experience

Session II - Parallel sessions - These sessions will feature of mix of academic and practitioner perspectives, addressing topics such as impact bonds in low- and middle-income countries, markets in employment support, meaningful metrics, and social investment.


Session III Parallel sessions - After a short presentation of the GO Lab's latest report, Are we rallying together? Collaboration and public sector reform, these sessions will discuss critical questions about collaboration and what this means for public services. 

Session V - Plenary session - Transparency and knowledge sharing 

Session VI - Plenary session - Impact bonds: Looking to the future, what is next?  

Drinks reception 

Fees & registration

The participation fee is £200 (2-day full fee), £100 (1-day full fee) or £50 (student fee), and includes lunch on both days as well as a conference dinner in Oxford on the evening of 05th September. The GO Lab offers a limited number of free places for UK public sector commissioners. If you are a public sector commissioner working in the UK and would like to attend the conference, please get in touch with us at  

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