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Demonstrating Value in Chaos: The Elephant in the Room

Bull, Mike and Wilson, D and Baines, S and Jarvis, M and Antcliff, V and Martin, L (2018) Demonstrating Value in Chaos: The Elephant in the Room. In: International Social Innovation Research Conference (ISIRC) 2012, 12 September 2012 - 14 September 2012, Birmingham. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

This paper discusses issues and challenges of proving impact of micro social enterprises. The paper draws on the discussions at an event attended by representatives of Local Authorities, consultants, academics and practitioners in Manchester in March 2012 that were invited experts to grapple with the issues for micro (below five full time equivalents) social enterprises in proving their value to stakeholders. The event was entitled, ‘Demonstrating value in chaos’, to stimulate interest in discussing value in the chaos of new markets being shaped, in light of recent government third sector policies and the potential of a much bigger role in the delivery of public services for the third sector. The event sought to go beyond a SROI verses SAA debate, drawing on specific examples of organisations that are utilizing a number of ways of demonstrating value. The research was part of an ESRC funded Business Placement Scheme project in which the authors worked in partnership with Community Catalysts CIC, a social enterprise that supports microproviders and assists local authorities in stimulating enterprise. Community Catalysts is under pressure to evidence the impact of micro-providers in the personalisation of adult social care. Yet this paper extends beyond personalisation in grappling with the issues for wider social enterprise/third sector micro-enterprises. The paper is qualitative in nature and sits within a focus group methodology. This relied on copious note taking and other forms of evidence gathered during the event, which included participants taking part in activities with stickers, post it’s and stimulated debates. Four of the co-authors were deployed on the day to capture as much as they could of the discussions. The discussion threads presented in this paper are both a mix of pre-designed topics and more grounded topics that surfaced on the day. The cryptic inclusion in the title of the paper of the elephant in the room, was a drawing captured from one participant during the day in an analogy of the recent and potentially game changing Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 that recently went through UK parliament, which is discussed from participant perceptions in the paper. The paper is shaped around social impact tools and micro-enterprises, including an example of how a Local Authority supported a micro social enterprise through an SROI audit and the learning that came out of that journey. The findings are context specific in nature and are indicative of the threads of discussions that took paths as they did on the day. Some themes we recognise from the literature as we seek to gather and draw some implications and conclusions from what was a thought provoking and reflective day with experts at the forefront of this subject.

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