October 23, 2017

Complexity Science meets Social Impact Investment – call out for research participants

How can leaders in social impact investments increase the adaptive ability of their collaborations? A PhD researcher at the UWA Centre for Social Impact is using complexity science to provide practical insights into this question.

Organisational complexity theories and the study of human systems as ‘complex adaptive systems’ looks at evolution and change in social structures. Complexity theories tell us that long term outcomes are unpredictable, and can’t be reached only with traditional methods of linear planning and control. Instead, evolving toward a long term vision – such as the vision of alleviating complex social problems in a financially sustainable manner – requires us to continuously adapt as information, events and social structures change.

Using stories of the history and leadership of social impact bonds, researcher Ali Mollinger-Sahba will be analysing how leaders can achieve adaptive ability in SIBs and similar collaborations. The research will focus on how leaders make sense of each other’s actions, words, and the wider events and social structures of Australian social impact bonds. Through a qualitative focus on the way leaders make meaning, the research will be able to shine a light on assumptions and behaviours that influence adaptive ability in Australian social impact investments.

Remember, a leader is not always the one with the fancy job title! – often adaptive leaders come from the social network of our organisations and collaborations, not from the top of the hierarchy.

If you have been involved in social impact bonds in a leadership role and would like to share your story, please get in touch with Ali Mollinger-Sahba at ali.sahba@research.uwa.edu.au or on 0412 665 443. If you choose to participate, yours and your organisation’s privacy will be protected through de-identification prior to any publication of the research findings.

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