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

This information is for the 2024/25 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Jonathan Roberts, Marshall Institute, 9th Floor, Marshall Building (MAR.9.05)

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


This course is available on the Double Master of Public Administration (LSE-Sciences Po), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Hertie), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and NUS), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Tokyo), MPA in Data Science for Public Policy, Master of Public Administration and Master of Public Policy. This course is not available as an outside option.

This course is only available to MPA students in Year 2 of their programme.  This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access) and demand is typically very high.

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, social enterprise and the purpose-driven corporation.    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, seminars and workshops  totalling a minimum of 34 hours across the Winter Term.  Some asynchronous activities including short online videos and recorded interviews with expert practitioners may also be used.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 piece of coursework in the WT.

Formative assessment will consist of a draft composition of 1,500 words to prepare for the summative coursework. 

Indicative reading

  • Battilana, J., Lee, M., Walker, J. &, Dorsey, C. (2012). "In Search of the Hybrid Ideal."  Stanford Social Innovation Review 10(3): 51-55
  • Brest, P. (2020). 'The Outcomes Movement in Philanthropy and the Nonprofit Sector' in Powell, W. and Bromley, P. (eds). The Nonprofit Sector: a Research Handbook (third edition). Redwood City: Stanford University Press
  • 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.
  • Le Grand, J. and Roberts, J. (2021) 'Hands, hearts and hybrids: economic organisation, individual motivation and public benefit'. LSE Public Policy Review. 1(3): p.1
  • 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
  • Le Grand, J. and J. Roberts (2017). "The public service mutual: theories of motivational advantage". Public Administration Review 78(1): 82-91
  • 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 (50%, 2500 words) in May.
Other (50%) in April.

The 'other' assessment is a social enterprise proposal of 2,000 words.

Student performance results

(2020/21 - 2022/23 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 11.3
Merit 63.2
Pass 24.5
Fail 0.9

Key facts

Department: School of Public Policy

Total students 2023/24: 40

Average class size 2023/24: 20

Controlled access 2023/24: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

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