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CCEG SOCIAL VALUE & INTANGIBLES REVIEW matter of monitoring resources, but also practices which led to morality building and reflection2 . In my study of the performance measurement of social enterprises I have uncovered that the nature of measurement has more facets than we typically consider when designing and applying it (see Figure below).

In fact, measurement is not only the production of a Key Performance Indicator, or a report, or a meetingit is a practice which imbues a particular experience. Measurement pushes people to identify, describe and understand organizational phenomenon in a particular way. This means social workers should not be measured solely on how cost effective or efficient they are in seeing service users, because this distracts them from the real purpose of working with people in need- to establish a trusting relationship and space for that person to grow. In other words, people are not independent of measurement, measurement is a way for people to experience and understand the world, and the intention and enactment of measurement matters for how people experience themselves, others, and organizations. Most organizational and institutional measurement practices, at national and international levels, lack underlying meanings. Measurement in organizations is about growth, profits, productivity - symbols of money and indicators of capacity to spend money. End of (not very exhilarating) story. It is not about people, development, or meaningful individual growth. In fact it seems it is completely disconnected from these elements of life. Measuring growth and productivity from a financial perspective may symbolize hard-work and ambition, but it says nothing about the quality of these efforts. Social measures on the other hand consider how organizational

efforts, which are ultimately peoples’ collective efforts, are generating positive experiences for the people (not just the organization’s bottom line).

organizations we interact with on a day-to-day basis are also speaking this language and appreciating the actions that go into the creation of such phenomenon.

Emerging social indicators such as $+, bring the possibility of moving organizational conversations and actions towards more holistic and healthy conceptions of our economies and hence also our selves.

In other words, we need measurement of social value - it will help us understand and move towards another world where the environment is cared for, societies are nurtured, and people develop self-care. The symbolism of measurement matters, and the symbolism of $+ is a positive one. One that does not disregard the humongous amount of work that has gone into creating our capitalist systems, but one that makes a huge leap in a new direction toward defining the true potentialities and outcomes of that system.

What are the standards we want to hold ourselves to? Many people would agree that effectiveness and wealth in the form of financial profits alone does not necessarily signal prosperity and abundance. In fact, the richest people in our world are continuously turning towards investing not only their money, but themselves into social initiatives. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Oprah Winfrey Foundation, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Hewlett Packard Foundation, and the list goes on. We might not all have the opportunity to contribute as much financial value to the world as the portion of the ‘1%’ I just mentioned will have, but we can all contribute somethingsocial value. And our chances of doing so are much higher if the

Measuring for social value, with indicators such as $+, is a chance at bringing meaning back into our institutions and practices: sentiments, positive attributes, humaneness. It may not be perfect, but it is a highly promising alternative, that is available now, to any organization wanting to embark upon on a journey of greater social value and more meaningful profits.

1. MEASUREMENT PRACTICE Key Performance Indicators Social Value Measurement tools Meetings Reports Etc.

2. MEANINGS The symbols associated to the particular measurement practice (e.g., money, well being, efficiency, quality, etc.)




Actions, behaviors, and relationships resulting from affect of measurement process

How people feel and respond attitudinally to the symbols of measurement process

Figure 1: The Multi-Faceted Essence of Measurement

2. Quattrone, P. (2004). Accounting for God: accounting and accountability practices in the Society of Jesus (Italy, XVI–XVII centuries). Accounting, organizations and society, 29(7), 647-683.

February 2017


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Social Value and Intangibles Review February 2017  

CCEG Social Value & Intangibles Review (SVIR) – February 2017 Centre for Citizenship, Enterprise and Governance journal on Social Impact and...

Social Value and Intangibles Review February 2017  

CCEG Social Value & Intangibles Review (SVIR) – February 2017 Centre for Citizenship, Enterprise and Governance journal on Social Impact and...

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