The Landscape of Social Investment: A Holistic Topology of Opportunities and Challenges

Nicholls, Alex and Pharoah, Cathy (2008) The Landscape of Social Investment: A Holistic Topology of Opportunities and Challenges. Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship.

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This report provides a holistic account of the state
of play in the emerging field of social investment,
defined as the flow of resources – either market
or non-market generated – that fulfils the funding
needs of organisations that primarily create social
or environmental value. It also looks forward to
some of the future opportunities in this space. The
main conclusion is that the development of social
investment is currently at a crossroads: there is
enormous potential for growth, but there are also
formidable institutional barriers to be overcome.

This research assesses both current research and practice
across institutions in supply, intermediation and
demand in order to analyse current developments
and build proposals for taking advantage of future
opportunities. It sets out key definitions and builds
a series of analytic frameworks and applies them
to the landscape of social investment. Although
highly innovative, social investment institutions
are still marked by traditional boundaries which
actors from the private, public and third sectors find
it difficult to cross. Issues of risk are seen as the
main barriers, but it is suggested that discussion
of risk masks deeper uncertainties about the role
and value of social return. Such uncertainties are
reflected in ambiguities about the extent to which
social investment is non-profit or for-profit in nature,
in divergent views about the role of intermediaries,
and in assessments of the value of the further
development of social equity finance as a way of
increasing the social investment market as a whole.
This paper considers macro-structural questions that
require a reassessment of some of the assumptions
built into current frameworks for analysing the
state of social investment, which are still heavily
influenced by conventional capital market models.

In addition, it outlines a number of opportunities for
addressing micro-market issues that could support
the further growth of social investment, particularly
for social enterprises.

Item Type: Other Working Paper
Keywords: social enterprises; social investment; financial services
Subject(s): Social entrepreneurship
Centre: Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship
Date Deposited: 16 May 2011 13:19
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2015 14:05
Funders: Big Lottery Fund

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