Cover of Measuring Social Change by Alnoor Ebrahim
Measuring Social Change
Performance and Accountability in a Complex World
Alnoor Ebrahim

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July 2019
280 pages.
$30.00

Cloth ISBN: 9781503601406

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The social sector is undergoing a major transformation. We are witnessing an explosion in efforts to deliver social change, a burgeoning impact investing industry, and an unprecedented intergenerational transfer of wealth. Yet we live in a world of rapidly rising inequality, where social sector services are unable to keep up with societal need, governments are stretched beyond their means. Alnoor Ebrahim addresses one of the fundamental dilemmas facing leaders as they navigate this uncertain terrain: performance measurement. How can they track performance towards worthy goals such as reducing poverty or climate change, improving public health, or advancing human rights? What results can they reasonably measure and legitimately take credit for? This book tackles three core challenges of performance faced by social enterprises and nonprofit organizations alike: what to measure, what kinds of performance systems to build, and how to align multiple demands for accountability. It lays out four different types of strategies for managers to consider—niche, integrated, emergent, and ecosystem—and details the types of performance measurement and accountability systems best suited to each. Finally, this book examines the roles of funders such as impact investors, philanthropic foundations, and international aid agencies, and lays out how they can best enable meaningful performance measurement.

About the author

Alnoor Ebrahim is Professor of Management at Tufts University, where he has joint appointments at The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy and the Tisch College of Civic Life. His research addresses the challenges of performance management, governance, and accountability facing social enterprises, nonprofit organizations, international NGOs, and public agencies. Professor Ebrahim previously served on a working group established by the G8 to create global guidelines on social impact measurement, and he has worked on projects with a number of global NGOs. He is the author of the award-winning book, NGOs and Organizational Change: Discourse, Reporting, and Learning, and is co-editor of Global Accountabilities: Participation, Pluralism, and Public Ethics (both with Cambridge University Press).