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Study: Social Benefits

What is the research?

This research project is a critical evaluation of current methods used by project planners and evaluators in the public and third sectors to quantify social benefits and costs.  By evaluating current methods it aims to see if it possible to develop alternative quantification models/frameworks for quantifying these costs and benefits, thus broadening the choice of available quantification frameworks to project management professionals. 

Why is it important?

This research is important because, when planning or evaluating projects in the public and third sectors, cost benefit analysis is used as a core tool in determining whether a project represents value for money.  This can determine whether a project goes ahead in the first place or is repeated in the future, thus impacting how public and third sector bodies use their scarce financial resources. 

To carry out this cost benefit analysis is a straightforward process where costs and benefits are easily quantified, e.g. the cost of an apprenticeship which leads a young person into sustained employment.  However, public and third sector projects are often more complex and the social costs and benefits are not as clear or direct.  Evaluators of these projects must, therefore, find alternative ways to quantify these costs and benefits.

This research is important as it will review how this quantification currently occurs, what the advantages and disadvantages of current methods/models/frameworks are, and whether alternatives could be developed to improve how we evaluate these projects in future.  

Who is the intended audience?

This research will be of interest to project planners and evaluators in the public and third sector, but may have wider implications in terms of stakeholder management more broadly.