New Financial Tools for a Social Return on Investment

“Social impact bonds” are a new financial instrument designed to support successful social and environmental programs and reduce government spending. Investors provide the initial capital for contracted service providers, and the government agrees to pay the contractors only if the program meets its goals.

New Financial Tools for a Social Return on Investment

Water Governance & Systems of Exchange

Due to numerous domestic, industrial, and environmental demands for water, efficient water governance can be a complex challenge. Given that multiple exchange logics can motivate demand for water, it is unsurprising that the most democratic, efficient, and flexible governance systems are hybrids of multiple Systems of Exchange.

Water Governance & Systems of Exchange

The Birth of the Sharing Economy

The “sharing economy” describes exchanges in which resources are shared rather than owned. For example, Zipcar allows customers to rent cars when they need them, and AirBnb provides a platform for people to rent unoccupied living spaces to travelers.

The Birth of the Sharing Economy

Time Banks: An Economy of Volunteering

About thirty years ago, law professor Edgar Cahn invented a system for valuing things that are necessary for society but are often unpaid, such as companionship, neighborliness, mentorship, and community building.

Time Banks: An Economy of Volunteering

Assessing the Impact of Foreign Aid

Rather than fueling economic growth, development aid in many countries is exacerbating poverty and forcing countries into substantial debt. If rich countries spend so much money on development aid, why are poor countries still suffering so much?

Assessing the Impact of Foreign Aid

Rich Countries Need to Halve Meat Consumption

Consumer demand for meat has increased dramatically in the last few decades, and the resulting intensification of livestock production has had dire consequences on the environment. Professor Mark Sutton from the UN Environmental Programme argues that the answer to meat-related environmental risks is to reduce Western meat consumption.

Rich Countries Need to Halve Meat Consumption

Pricing the HPV Vaccine

An American woman is charged $390 for all three doses of the HPV vaccine, whereas the same product goes for less than $15 in Kenya. What is the most “moral” price for these life-saving vaccines?

Pricing the HPV Vaccine

What is the Value of a College Degree?

Higher education is often measured against Price, Moral, and Communal criteria — and the value of college ultimately depends on which exchange system we use to evaluate it.

What is the Value of a College Degree?

From Copyright to Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a direct challenge to the Price-based assumption that artists need a profit incentive to produce. Millions of people have already demonstrated that they want their efforts to be freely shared with the public.

From Copyright to Creative Commons

Rotating Savings and Credit Associations

Many communities in developing countries operate their own lending organizations, many of which predate the international microcredit movement. Called rotating savings and credit associations, or roscas, these organizations allow small groups of people to pool their resources for the purposes of saving and lending.

Rotating Savings and Credit Associations

Solar House Parties -- It Worked for Tupperware!

Even though environmentalists have been advocating for solar power for decades, very few people have installed solar panels on their homes. A new strategy uses Tupperware's party model to reach consumers.

Solar House Parties -- It Worked for Tupperware!

Systems of Exchange

This website is a resource for social science and management researchers, instructors, and students. It provides an introduction to an analytical framework for thinking about economic action and decision-making from a sociological perspective. The materials should be of interest to economic sociologists, macro organization theorists, and people interested in corporate social responsibility debates. The SOE framework can be used to analyze policy claims, too.


The four qualitatively different ways of ordering economic exchange captured in the systems of exchange typology—-Price, Associative, Moral and Communal-—are distillations of empirical observations, rather than assumptions about how markets should work. As such, the systems of exchange typology offers an alternative way for thinking about market organization that can readily be distinguished from neoclassical economics.

The Authors

Professor Nicole Woolsey Biggart is the director of the UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center, Professor of Management of the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, and Chevron Chair in Energy Efficiency. She is an expert in organizational theory and management of innovation. Her research interests include economic and organizational sociology, firm networks, industrial change and social bases of technology adoption. The author of seven books or book-length reports, she has also written more than 30 articles and chapters and numerous book reviews, and is a frequent presenter at international meetings.


 

Rick Delbridge is Professor of Organizational Analysis and Associate Dean (Research) at Cardiff Business School. His research interests include work and workplace relations, the management of innovation, and critical human resource management. He has published his research in many leading journals including Academy of Management Review, Human Relations, Journal of Management Studies, Organization Science and Organization Studies. He is Associate Editor of Organization. Rick is a Fellow of the Sunningdale Institute, member of the British Academy of Management Research & Development Committee and an Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences.

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