Research Prize for Social Market Economy awarded to Alumnus Gorgi Krlev

The 2021 Research Prize for Social Market Economy of 20,000 euros has been awarded by Germany’s Roman Herzog Institute to Department alumnus Dr Gorgi Krlev.

In his research Gorgi is concerned with social impact measurement – with measuring the contribution of organisations to society, in particular through social entrepreneurship and social innovation, independently of whether the organisations are non-profit, for-profit or state-run.

The Roman Herzog prize is awarded to young researchers who engage with the future of the social market economy in their doctoral theses or habilitation research. The interdisciplinary nature of Gorgi’s work and its cohesiveness as a monograph were considered assets by the jury.

New forms of measuring success, new ways of tallying capital

Economic surplus is relatively easy to measure. Profits, losses and economic capital are clearly quantifiable parameters. But how can the social, cultural and political effects that organizations are producing be identified?

Social impact measurement is the focus of Gorgi's research, and he proposes possible solutions for some of the pressing problems of our time, such as loneliness in old age, disenchantment with politics or violence among young people. His core argument: we can improve our understanding of social impact if we are able to decipher what effects social programmes or activities have on different forms of capital.

The starting point is the distinction between these different forms of capital. Social capital includes the social networks people have, their connections with others, or the time they spend together. Cultural capital relates to degrees of mutual trust, tolerance or solidarity.

One of the empirical studies he conducted using his ‘capital-based approach’ focused on community-oriented housing models. He was able to make it transparent that such models support the evolution of social contacts and mutual support. But he was also able to show the limitations that such models bring along – for example a lack of emotional support.

His research enables us to analyse social productivity systematically. The COVID19-crisis has shown that social productivity is just as important for society as its economic productivity. Only when people possess an appropriate level of the different forms of capital, can they employ them for society in a way that generates value. Gorgi's research is not only helpful for organizations, who seek to improve their impact – it also serves as the basis of progressive economic and social policy, particularly if such policy aims to solve social problems, generate social innovations and promote sustainability.

Gorgi is a Senior Researcher at the Centre for Social Investment (CSI) at the University of Heidelberg.

His dissertation research was co-supervised by the former Director of the Department for Continuing Education Professor Jonathan Michie, and Professor Alex Nicholls of the Saïd Business School.

Professor Michie said, ‘Gorgi’s DPhil research on social innovation was pathbreaking, and led directly to the major contributions Gorgi has since made to the academic literature and to the related policy debates and developments.’

After receiving his DPhil, Gorgi served as Guest Editor for a Special Issue of the International Review of Applied Economics, on Innovation and Societal Transformation - What Changes When the ‘Social’ Comes In?

Gorgi had nothing but praise for his experience at Oxford University. ‘In no other place could I have carried out my work in this way. Whenever there was a challenge, you helped me overcome it, and especially encouraged me to keep thinking big. I am glad the Herzog Prize jury recognized these qualities in the research.’

Published 18 August 2021