PP4J2      Half Unit
New Institutions of Public Policy: Strategic Philanthropy, Impact Investment and Social Enterprise

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Jonathan Roberts Marshall Institute, 5 Lincoln's Inn Fields

Other teachers: Professor Julian Le Grand and Professor Stephan Chambers, Marshall Institute


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) and Master of Public Administration. This course is not available as an outside option.

This course is only available to MPA students in Year 2 of their programme. The course is a collaboration between the Marshall Institute and the School of Public 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.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures, classes and workshops  totalling a minimum of 34 hours across the Lent Term. This year some or all of this teaching may be delivered through a combination of remote live classes and workshops, and various remote asynchronous activities, including flipped-lectures delivered as short online videos and recorded videos with expert practitioners. This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of the Lent Term.

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
  • Le Grand, J. (2006). Motivation, Agency and Public Policy: of Knights and Knaves, Pawns and Queens. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Nicholls, A, Paton, R and Emerson, J. (2015) Social Finance, Oxford, Oxford University Press
  • Porter, M and Kramer, M (2011), 'Creating shared value', Harvard Business Review 89 (Feb); 62-77. Also TedTalk - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ilh5YYDR2o
  • 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
  • Tirole, J, (2017). Economics for the Common Good.  Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Yunus, M. (2010). Building Social Business.  New York: Public Affairs.


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

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: School of Public Policy

Total students 2019/20: 29

Average class size 2019/20: 14

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

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