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Social impact measurement: An interpretive framework based on the economics of conventions and two French case studies

Marion Studer (2022)

Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Online first

Abstract. Day after day, social impact measurement is becoming preeminent in the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE). Against this background a multiplicity of methods of measuring social impact have emerged. Our aim is to shed some light on how to interpret this diversity of methods for measuring social impact by using the economics of conventions literature. This analytical approach leads us to regard the various methods of measuring social impact as evaluation conventions or “modes of coordination” between the agents involved. These conventions are based on representations of what is “good” and “fair”, of what constitutes “good” and “bad” evaluations. More specifically this article identifies two distinct collective modes of coordination which we label the “managerial convention” and the “deliberative convention”. The analysis of different possible articulations between these two conventions within the evaluations that were the subject of two case studies reveals, on the one hand, the existence of common characteristics within these methods, even though their originators describe and define them as singular or unique measures of social impact, on the other hand, the presence of distinctive element relating to the degree of belonging to the SSE of the social impact measurement’s originators, the “identity dimension” of the SSE.

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