Thesis title: The Social Impact Bond Policy
Supervisors: Liliana Doganova and Fabian Muniesa
The PhD investigates a recent innovation in the spectrum of social services. Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) are a public-private financing scheme for localized public policies. SIBs tie impact investment and social policy around low-scale and potential high-impact programs, so as investors take the risk of policy failure (if the program does not reach the expected results) and are paid for this risk, as the investment and return are calibrated upon social results. For 10 years, the “SIB” mechanism has been established as such and has circulated in more than 30 countries. It has applied to various topics like employment, education, jail, child welfare services –various specific policies phrased as risky investment.
The study focuses on heterogeneous SIB design practices in France, Colombia and Chile. It characterizes the mechanism ‘in the making’ through moments of problematizations and controversies. The PhD is hosted by the association Impact Invest Lab, which leads the French network on impact investment as well as the “experimentation” of SIBs in France.
The ambition of the PhD is to study what SIBs enact with regards to the social end, through alignment and organization of powers between public actors, social actors, and financial actors. Expertise plays a central role in this phenomenon. The PhD derives from Science and Technology Studies, and draws from economic sociology and anthropology of finance. This research contributes to various fields by exploring market agencements, innovation policy, financial risks, the treatment of poverty and social impact. It is also a contribution to the recent but growing literature on SIB.