The Menu of Tools to Measure Impact and Social Value Creation

There is growing interest in how to measure the impact generated by public and private organizations, which can indicate their ability to create social value. In this new paper with Leandro Nardi and Sandro Cabral, we review the main approaches to assess social value creation and argue that no available approach combines high precision in the identification of a project’s causal effect, comparability of measures coming from distinct projects, and low cost of implementation. Therefore, managers must strategically choose the most appropriate measurement approach according to the organization’s objectives to signal, monitor, or demonstrate impact.


Paying for Measurable Social Improvements

Various governments, multilateral development organizations and nonprofits have launched outcome-based contracts that define payments to service providers based on measurable socio-environmental indicators of performance. In this paper with Thomaz Teodorovicz, Sergio Firpo and Sandro Cabral we compare alternative methods to assess these outcomes, using the database on outcome-based contracts compiled by Insper Metricis.

The Covid-19 Crisis and the State-Owned Apparatus

Hospital Moinhos de Vento inicia pesquisa clínica que avaliará ...Aldo Musacchio and I wrote an article suggesting possible strategies to address the Covid-19 pandemic using state-owned organizations in collaboration with private firms. Although most work has focused on financial liquidity problems, our emphasis is on promoting quick discovery and coordination towards new prevention and treatment capabilities. Comments and suggestions are very welcome! Please also check this article with Anita McGahan, Aldo Musacchio and Joseph Wong on the need of global coordination for health innovation.

The Right Strategy: Benchmarks for Just Corporate Action

Facing escalating criticism, firms and their owners have rushed to argue that their profits are for the common good, often via perfunctory social or philanthropic initiatives that fail to demonstrate real impact. Even worse, "responsible practices" are often used as diversions from fundamental things that firms are systematically neglecting. In a new paper, I apply concepts of justice to come up with a set of ordered criteria that firms can voluntarily choose. To help society, firms do not need to climb to higher standards of justice. Yet, if they choose a higher-level standard, they should make sure that more basic conditions are met.

Although most writings on this topic have asked firms "to do more for society," without clear guidance on what baseline conditions need to be met, I argue that oftentimes “less may be more”—avoiding, for instance, investments in social projects simply to compensate for the neglect of basic rights or unfair competitive practices. An adapted and summarized version of the argument is also in this post with Jackson Nickerson.

Public-Private Collaboration and Success Factors in Public Innovations

We recently collaborated with Accenture Research to carry out a comparative study of 24 public innovation initiatives in Brazil, India, and South Africa. While we found a complex web of alliances with for-profit and not-for-profit private actors, our findings indicate that the success of thoese iniatives requires strong public capabilities to lead and operationally manage those projects. In other words, higher private engagement cannot be seen as a way to supplant inneficient governments; it requires concurrent development of public capabilities to jointly lead and co-manage those projects. Check Accenture's report and our research article discussing the main findings of this study (accepted for publication at the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory).

Insper Metricis: Supporting the Emerging Field of Impact Investing


Insper Metricis is an initiative to support the measurement of socio-environmental impact in the emerging field of impact investing. We have also developed guidelines to help investors and entrepreneurs develop robust measurment plans. In addition, we wrote a research paper describing alternative business models through which impact investors try to balance financial and social performance.