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HOI research | Boards of social hybrid organizations face hurdles in measuring social impact

A recent study reveals that boards of social hybrid organizations encounter significant challenges in implementing social impact measurements. Published in The British Accounting Review, this research sheds light on the difficulties these boards face and offers insights into improving governance practices.

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Struggles in measuring social impact for social hybrids

Social hybrid organizations, like social enterprises and charities, aim to achieve both social and commercial goals. However, they often face conflicting demands from various stakeholders. This study focuses on the challenges that boards of these organizations in Sweden encounter when trying to implement social impact measurements. The research is based on interviews with 36 board chairs and general secretaries.

Identifying obstacles and solutions

The study aimed to identify the obstacles that boards of social hybrid organizations face in measuring social impact and propose potential solutions. The researchers explored how these boards can better navigate the complexities of balancing social and financial performance metrics.

Boards face a significant challenge in implementing social impact measurements due to the lack of standardized metrics and the competing demands of cost efficiency and social outcomes,” said Professor Mattias Nordqvist from the House of Innovation, one of the study’s co-authors.

Key research findings

  • Existing regulations focused on cost efficiency, making it difficult for boards to adopt social impact measurements.
  • Pro bono board members often lack the time and accountability needed to implement comprehensive social impact strategies.
  • Different types of social hybrids—“beneficiary-driven” and “membership-driven”—face unique challenges in measuring social impact.

Improving the future of social hybrid governance

The study suggests that future research should incorporate board-level perspectives to understand better the management of performance measurements in social hybrid organizations. Clearer guidelines and more resources are needed to support boards in their efforts to measure social impact effectively.

“Our findings underscore the necessity for more structured support and clearer guidelines to help boards of social hybrids measure and report on social impact, ensuring these organizations can fulfill their dual missions effectively.” – Dr. Nordqvist.

Meet the researchers

  • Anup Banerjee: Jönköping International Business School, Jönköping University
  • Martin Carlsson-Wall: Department of Accounting, Center for Sports and Business, Stockholm School of Economics
  • Mattias Nordqvist: House of Innovation, Stockholm School of Economics
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