How can universities better generate impacts that positively affect peoples’ lives?

Liverpool Business School has launched pioneering guidance about how universities can better generate the kinds of impacts that positively impact peoples’ lives.

Featured by the Higher Education Policy Institute, the report focuses on teaching as a direct driver of societal impact, rather than in research where impact management is much more developed. 

This report has far reaching consequences for the 2.5 million students across the UK, and its largest disciplinary area of business and management (accounting for 412,815 students 16.3% in 2019 / 20, far greater than those studying subjects allied to medicine (see the British Academy’s research). 

Tony Wall, Professor of Management at LJMU and lead author of the guidance said: “This report provides a global perspective of how universities and social organisations can practically collaborate for impact – whether it be stakeholder mapping, co-delivering innovative courses, working in-situ, in communities, or using well-established tools to help understand what communities value, and by how much”, he says. 

Dr Adam Shore, Director of the School of Business and Management and co-author, described social value as a lens through which to design new strategies, ensuring that activity is undertaken with a common purpose aligned with social organisations or initiatives such as Business in the Community and Principles of Responsible Management Education

“Our programmes can and should be designed with social value embedded – for example using live projects, where students work with organisations to create solutions to real issues,” he said.

The report can be freely downloaded here. It highlights good global practices useful for impact management through teaching including: 

  • Increasing integration of social value into strategic vision and mission statements
  • Significant data, data collection and monitoring capabilities
  • Established reporting and communications mechanisms

However the report also calls for a range of more university-wide, joined-up thinking and strategy to manage impact through teaching, including for example: 

  • Creating roadmaps to facilitate social value transitions alongside environmental management transitions
  • Building capability in using tools for social value assessment and impact management
  • Designing teaching and learning to develop social value impact mindsets

In order to facilitate such transformation, the report recognises the need for wider support such as: 

  • Lobbying governments to accelerate change towards managing meaningful social value impacts
  • Social movement organisations working collaboratively raising awareness of social impact management practices (for example, see Social Value International guidance here)
  • Expanding national and global capacity through communities of practice which share tools, practices, and case studies

The report was a result of global symposia for social value in 2022, where more than 130 people from 12 countries collaborated in-person and online for a two-day event hosted by Liverpool Business School and Social Value UK. 

The event and report were supported by a Liverpool John Moores University Quality Research Grant, and various professional bodies and learned societies globally including:

- The British Academy of Management (Sustainable and Responsible Business SIG),

- Principles for Responsible Management Education (Working Group on Poverty),

- University Vocational Awards Council,

- Social Value International,

- The Academy of Business in Society,

- American International Accreditation Association for Schools and Colleges, and

- The National Society for Experiential Education. 

As a result of the event, vice-chancellors, directors, academic and community regeneration experts in the UK and abroad continue to report changes to their practice, including new collaborations for deeper impacts in their communities.  

CEO of Social Value UK, Crispen Sachikonye, said: “Liverpool Business School and Liverpool John Moores University are our first university partner and we are already using the guidance to rethink how we drive the social value movement through wider educational systems as a result. We have established a new thought leadership group to drive this impact.”

Vice Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University Professor Mark Power said the guidance provided: “A vital thought piece on how universities can better generate and embed social value into their programmes. It’s testament to everyone here at the university that we are striving to create a positive impact on society, here in the Liverpool City Region and further afield. This is something embedded within our ambition and vision for the future.” 



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