Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship | SCO – Initial Convening

A little bit of a confusing hodge-podge – a centre set up by Skoll at the Said Business School at Oxford University, which seems to have suddenly sprung to life with both a newsletter (copied at bottom) which links to a blog page (copied below) which has a bit of a different set of links.

via Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship | SCO – Initial Convening

 

SCO – Initial Convening

Latest blog update from the Skoll Centre’s main research initiative, the Systems Change Observatory.

In March 2019, we had a daylong session that integrated in-person attendance with contributions from participants around the world. This meeting incorporated opinions from previously conducted unstructured interviews to identify the most relevant issues and concerns regarding systems change among this first round of Observatory contributors.

The discussions raised were far from exhaustive. The value of this study lies in starting an exploration of topics that have not yet been systematically studied and understood with practitioners who, despite sharing similar concerns, are approaching problems differently.

Emergent themes

From our discussions, four key themes emerged:

  1. Definitions and conceptions of systems change
  2. The intersections of systems change, social entrepreneurship, and scaling solutions
  3. Implementing systems change
  4. Measurement and evaluation of systems change interventions.

The first two refer to the connections between systems change, social entrepreneurship and scaling-up an intervention in the social impact space.

Graph showing the top topics from interviews.

The last two themes consider the principles for designing and implementing systems change activities and the challenges in setting up measurement and evaluation instruments for system change interventions. Given the diverse experiences of our interviewees, our findings highlight different mechanisms, challenges and prospects to positively drive and evaluate system change. We will share snapshots on these themes to map relevant issues and spark deeper conversations.

Looking ahead

One of the salient issues in systems change work is the relative lack of over-time data on ventures that pursue a systems approach to social innovation. This limits our understanding of how system change is conceived and pursued to address a wide range of challenges. Beyond this initial study, the SCO intends to explore what happens in the life-course of these ventures, shedding light on aggregate patterns across ventures and over time.

The SCO can contribute by providing key outputs on systems change in action. This includes identifying the skills required to engage in systems change, approaches and pathways to change that organisations follow over time and their experience with implementation. This can help entrepreneurs identify what skills to build and activities in which to engage.

The ambition of the SCO is to add value to the field by keeping in mind the relevance of our research for our stakeholders. We intend to offer value by leveraging our academic skills to undertake translational research in order to produce, compile, and disseminate knowledge that can be useful for academics and practitioners in the field of systems change.

Stay up to date with the latest news and research insights from the Systems Change Observatory, sign up to receive the newsletter.

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Welcome

Welcome, system change colleagues, to the Systems Change Observatory (SCO) newsletter.

Systems change itself is a phrase that many are using more and more: Big challenges in the world have persuaded activists, policy makers, corporates, and researchers to ‘think big’ and to think in ‘whole system’ terms. The useful conversations now are to explore new ways of talking, understanding, and intervening – no one organization or community or even country can solve these challenges on their own. And the challenges themselves are outcomes from complex, interdependent, layered processes that often span jurisdictions.

Over the coming months we will highlight the ambitions of the SCO and themes that emerged from our initial convening in May 2019. At times we will ask for your contributions to add to our observations of the systems change landscape as it relates to education, research and practitioner knowledge and experiences.

Read on and we look forward to learning with you.
Prof Marc Ventresca
University of Oxford and Wolfson College

What is the Systems Change Observatory?

The Systems Change Observatory (SCO) is a research initiative of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Saïd Business School. The Observatory aims to provide a space for a wide range of stakeholders in systems change theory, policy and practice to discuss, share experiences and learn best ways to steer systems change practice to achieve positive social and environmental impact.

This research study explores pathways to systems change made visible in the starting points and initiatives of a large sample of ventures over time. The goal is to generate actionable insights, case studies and tools in support of systems change, both for practice and policy. The research integrates insights from organisational design and strategy, institutional and funding contexts, the work of leaders and broader venture ecosystems.

Getting started

In March 2019, we had a daylong session that integrated in-person attendance with contributions from participants around the world. This meeting incorporated opinions from previously conducted unstructured interviews to identify the most relevant issues and concerns regarding systems change among this first round of Observatory contributors.

Spotlight profile: Dr Paulo Savaget

Dr Paulo Savaget is the postdoctoral researcher for the Systems Change Observatory research initiative. Paulo works on the implementation of an applied research agenda focused on transforming unjust systems through social innovation and social entrepreneurship.

Useful resources

In each edition of this newsletter, we will share useful insightful resources related to systems change.
Practitioner Reports
Embracing Complexity – Towards a shared understanding of funding systems change.

Systems Leadership and Platforms: How to mobilize people to transform systems and build the platforms to scale these efforts By John Hagel and Gemma Mortensen.

Beyond Organisational Scale: How Social Entrepreneurs create systems Change.
Academic Paper

Ferraro, F., Etzion, D., & Gehman, J. (2015). Tackling Grand Challenges Pragmatically: Robust Action Revisited. Organization Studies, 36(3), 363–390.