What Social Impact Is…and What It Isn’t
Trevor Neilson

Great post. In particular, being more rigorous in deciding whether a company changes the world. That’s why i’ve been particularly hesitant when trying to assess impact investing in public equities….

Secondly, I’ve been looking at some of the definitions used in the literature for a while (below). The variation is quite stark, capturing the methodological need, but not the intentional social need and commitment to measurement:

Social impact

(Burdge and Vanclay 1996)

By social impacts we mean the consequences to human populations of any public or private actions that alter the ways in which people live, work, play, relate to one another, organise to meet their needs and generally act as a member of society.

(Latané 1981)

By social impact, we mean any of the great variety of changes in physiological states and subjective feelings, motives and emotions, cognitions and beliefs, values and behaviour, that occur in an individual, human or animal, as a result of the real, implied, or imagined presence or actions of other individuals.

(Clark et al. 2004)

By impact we mean the portion of the total outcome that happened as a result of the activity of the venture, above and beyond what would have happened anyway.

Social Impact (Freudenburg 1986)

Social impact refers to impacts (or effects, or consequences) that are likely to be experienced by an equally broad range of social groups as a result of some course of action

Social Impact (Florman et al 2016)

“analysing, monitoring and managing the economic, social and environmental consequences of business activity,both positive and negative,independently of the intentionality of the activity.”

The Group of Experts of the European Commission on Social

Entrepreneurship (GECES, 2014)

‘the reflection of social outcomes as measurement, both long-term and short-term, adjusted for the effects achieved by others (alternative attribution), for effects that would have happened anyway (deadweight), for negative consequences (displacement) and for effects declining over time (drop off)’ (GECES, 2014).

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