Putting evaluations to use: from measuring to endorsing social value

Document type
Working Paper
Arvidson, Malin; Kara, Helen
Third Sector Research Centre
Date of publication
1 October 2013
Working paper; 110
Social Policy, Community Development and Regeneration
Social welfare
Material type

Download (346KB )

This paper examines the concept of social value, emphasized in the recently implemented Social Value Act. It argues that evaluations can play an important role in advocating the status of social value. Evaluations highlight priorities and interests and can offer an important way of evidencing and promoting social value in order that it becomes an active ingredient in decision-making in the commissioning of public services. This is essential, since the implementation of the Social Value Act is made difficult by the fact that social value is hard to define and that commissioners are presented with goals and priorities that may compete with a focus on social values. This paper elaborates on a set of themes that can help us explore evaluation frameworks with a view to highlighting where and how evaluations can endorse social values, such as social inclusion, as a feature of how public services are delivered by third sector organisations. This, we argue, will be crucial for the Social Value Act to become a meaningful addition to the way public services are procured and commissioned, and for third sector organisations to secure continued public service contracts based on arguments and values that play on their presumed advantages over other service deliverers.

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