Following the joint efforts of the entire Insper Community to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, we are producing exclusive content to collaborate in decision-making and in overcoming the challenges of this period.
Generating knowledge that positively impacts society is one of our missions and. At the moment, we reinforce our course of action with a series of interviews, news stories, videos, and webinars that address various topics and highlight care and guidelines that we must all pay attention to during social isolation
In the following interview, Sérgio Lazzarini, Coordinator of Insper Metricis, discusses the release of the new issue of Insper Metricis’ Social and Environmental Impact Assessment Guide, talks about the new blog at Exame magazine(the leading business publication in Brazil), and analyzes the effects of the pandemic on impact assessment. Please see below:
1) What are the highlights of this new issue of the Social and Environmental Impact Assessment Guide?
We made several refinements to this new version. There is a more detailed discussion on how to define the target population of the project. There are also new elements to assist in designing a theory of change and selecting metrics. We also added a final section to briefly discuss how we can complement the measurement process with an economic analysis of the results obtained.
2) In general terms, what is the objective of the Social and Environmental Impact Assessment Guide?
The Social and Environmental Impact Assessment Guide aims to serve as a practical reference so that actors related to social and environmental projects learn about and manage the initiatives implemented based on evidence — whether they are governments, companies, non-profit organizations, or investors, among others.
Therefore, the document suggests a series of steps ranging from identifying the problem to be faced to selecting methods for impact measurement. It was conceived as a way of translating impact management concepts and tools so that public and private administrators can establish plans to measure and monitor the results of their activities.
3) In your opinion, does this pandemic period bring even more relevance to the Social and Environmental Impact Assessment? If so, for what reasons?
Worldwide, there are now trials on vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 that essentially follow methods that we discuss in the Guide— for instance, comparing “treated” individuals to a group of “control” individuals who do not receive the vaccine or drug. Still, there are people and government officials who insist on recommending treatments without proper evidence of an effective outcome. The same goes for any intervention that aims to improve people’s lives. For example, a company may want to tighten support actions so that its suppliers can overcome the crisis. The Guide suggests ways to design a measurement plan for these interventions.
4) What recommendations do you make to everyone involved in planning, executing, and evaluating impact projects, especially thinking about post-pandemic scenarios?
Unfortunately, we will have tough months ahead. It is crucial now to think about how we can focus support actions on the most vulnerable and well-designed theory of change that allows for not only incorporating complementary actions but also helping in choosing good metrics. For instance, we know that just providing credit for individuals in difficulty is not enough. It may be important, in your theory of change, to incorporate training and capacity building activities so that people make better use of these resources. Also, monitor the results over time, making route corrections, and adjusting the project with the lessons learned.
In this blog, named “Social Impact”, we will essentially discuss how to base social projects based on evidence and good theory. In a world where ideologies and preconceptions, unfortunately, end up having their space, it is crucial to make use of updated methodologies, best practices, and rigorous studies that can generate the best recommendations and the greatest learning. We heartily invite everyone to access the blog and give us suggestions!
Sergio Lazzarini is the Holder of the Chafi Haddad Chair at Insper. He teaches at our school since 2002. He had been a visiting professor at Harvard University, HEC-Paris, Insead, University of St Gallen, Imperial College, and the University of Utah. He has recently researched business strategies in emerging markets, how to establish relationships between private companies and the public sector, and the growing field of impact investments. Prof. Lazzarini also coordinates Insper Metricis, which is Insper’s Measurement Center for Social and Environmental Impact Investments. His most recent books are Capitalismo de Laços (Capitalism of Ties) (Campus/Elsevier, 2011) and Reinvesting State Capitalism (Harvard University Press, 2014, and Companhia das Letras publishing house, 2015, with Aldo Musacchio). He holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration (in the fields of Organization and Strategy) from John M. Olin School of Business, Washington University.