Social Impact: Origins and Evolution of the Term

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationEditorial


There has been remarkable proliferation of the use of the term “social impact” since the Global Financial Crisis. Businesses, investors, consumers and governments want to act purposefully, delivering positive social and environmental outcomes. That’s reason for cheer. However, the ascent of “social impact”, without sufficient shared understanding of what it means and how to measure it, risks widespread "impact washing", whereby the impact label is assigned to business-as-usual activities. In an attempt to advance a shared understanding of what impact is, in this post I share the origins and evolution of the term and its measurement.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationGlobal Policy
Publication statusPublished - 19 Dec 2019


  • social impact
  • impact
  • Policy


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