SA4J2      Half Unit
New Institutions of Public Policy: Strategic Philanthropy, Impact Investment and Social Enterprise

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Jonathan Roberts Marshall Institute, 5 Lincoln's Inn Fields and Prof Julian Le Grand Marshall Institute, 5 Lincoln's Inn Fields


This course is available on the MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Columbia), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Hertie), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and NUS), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Sciences Po), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Tokyo), MPA in European Public and Economic Policy, MPA in International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy, MPA in Public and Social Policy, MPA in Social Impact and Master of Public Administration. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

The course is available in the first instance to students taking the MPA in Social Impact. It is also open to students taking other MPA programmes.  If there is sufficient capacity, the course is available with permission to students taking Master's programmes in the Department of Social Policy and other Departments.  The course is a collaboration between the Marshall Institute and the Department of Social Policy.

Course content

Private actions for public benefit - whether called philanthropy, charity, associationalism, social entrepreneurship or social business - have long been significant within societies.  This arena of private action is currently experiencing both resurgence and disruption.  This course takes a policy-oriented approach towards these new dynamics of private social action.  It explores innovative mechanisms of financing, organisation and delivery, including impact investing, new coalitions for social impact (for instance, social impact bonds), venture philanthropy and social enterprise.    A central focus is the opportunity created by bringing together market and business mechanisms and the social – but also the consequent challenge and complexity of achieving social impact through hybrid organisations, hybrid funding streams and hybrid mechanisms of coordination.  Cross-cutting themes are how to design incentive structures which respond to the complex web of motivations of actors in this field, and the organisational tension inherent in responding to double or triple bottom lines.  

Using analytical frameworks drawn from economics, sociology and political economy, the course will critically evaluate the challenges and advantages of these emerging institutions and mechanisms.  Examples of the types of question that  we will investigate include: what is social enterprise? How can social enterprises support social innovation and impact? Can we combine financial return, social impact and environmental sustainability?  Why should an organisation be a non-profit, for-profit or other ownership form?  How can the state, market and private altruistic action combine to achieve social impact? How can we design organisations and structures which nurture and capitalise on values and altruism? What are the differences between the culture, practice and motivations of state, commercial and charitable organisations, and what are the consequent challenges of implementation and management in hybrid organisations?  The answers to these questions are contested and the course seeks to give participants the critical skills to make their own determination.


15 hours of lectures, 15 hours of seminars and 7 hours and 30 minutes of workshops in the LT.

The course comprises of one 90 minute lecture and one 90 minute seminar each week. In addition every fortnight there will be a 90 minute 'private action in practice' workshop organised by the Marshall Institute.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay and 1 presentation in the LT.

Formative assessment will consist of one 2,000 word essay, submitted in the middle of the LT.  Students will also receive formative feedback on seminar presentations.

Indicative reading

  • Anheier, H. and Leat, D. (2006).  Creative Philanthropy: Toward a New Philanthropy for the Twenty-First Century.  New York: Routledge
  • Battilana, J., Lee, M., Walker, J. &, Dorsey, C. (2012). "In Search of the Hybrid Ideal."  Stanford Social Innovation Review 10(3): 51-55
  • Dees, G. (2012). "A Tale of Two Cultures: Charity, Problem Solving, and the Future of Social Entrepreneurship."  Journal of Business Ethics 111(3): 321-334
  • Eikenberry, A. (2009). “Refusing the Market: A Democratic Discourse for Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations”.  Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 38(4): 582-596
  • Fox, C. and K. Albertson (2011). “Payment by results and social impact bonds in the criminal justice sector: New challenges for the concept of evidence-based policy?” Criminology and Criminal Justice 11(5): 395–413
  • Le Grand, J. (2006). Motivation, Agency and Public Policy: of Knights and Knaves, Pawns and Queens. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Reich,  C. Cordelli and L. Bernholz (eds) (2016). Philanthropy in democratic societies : history, institutions, values. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
  • Salamon, L. (2014). Leverage for Good: An Introduction to the New Frontiers of Philanthropy and Social Investment. Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Yunus, M. (2010). Building Social Business.  New York: Public Affairs.


Coursework (30%, 2000 words) and essay (70%, 3000 words) in April.

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2016/17: Unavailable

Average class size 2016/17: Unavailable

Controlled access 2016/17: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills