What is social value?
There are a lot of social value definitions in circulation, with differences ranging from terminology through to fundamental theory.
In their 2021 framework for defining social value in built environment projects, the Green Business Council (GBC) listed 24 well-established social value definitions alone. This highlights that social value is an evolving concept and area.
Defining social value
Those changes can be social, environmental or economic. And it is important to look at both positive and negative impacts, in order to identify true social value.
Another key factor is recognising that those impacts, and the way they should be captured, will vary based on the needs and context of different scenarios and individuals. Therefore, it is important to try and tailor the measurement as much as is possible based on the available research and data.
Ultimately social value can also be seen as all culminating in individual and community wellbeing, both current and long term.
Maximising social value
Social value, therefore, offers a way to understand and generate real value for money, by ensuring that organisations make more effective decisions that are founded on accountability and a greater understanding of outcomes.
But to engage with their social value, organisations need to understand how to measure it. Better measurement, in turn, leads to better management, which leads to the maximising of social value generated with the resources available.