Impact Measurement

The Impact Measurement Team, from the Erasmus School of Economics, together with a diverse group of organizations, apply their scientific knowledge and skills to gain a better handle on impact. This includes: putting the importance of measuring impact on the map; performing complex impact measurements; increasing the measurement capacity and effectiveness of organizations; and advancing both the scientific and public debate on impact measurement. We conduct research for business, government, civil society organizations and partnerships, and what follows, will now hopefully provide you with a good impression of the research we are engaged in.


All businesses have an impact on society. This impact can include both intended and unintended effects, which in turn can be either positive or negative. Companies are increasingly being held responsible for these effects. Initially, emphasis was placed very much on unintended negative effects, such as child labour or pollution. However, companies are increasingly realizing, that concern  about the impact they have on society, can also be a strategy to create value (Shared Value Creation). Impact measurement can therefore play a crucial role, as without measuring these effects, it is impossible to manage strategic impact, and it will remain unclear as to whether Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs are actually having a positive outcome for society. Below are some examples of both completed and ongoing research on impact, by and in cooperation with companies.

CSR and Shared Value Creation

• Corio: The development of a shared value framework to identify opportunities and to measure social returns, alongside financial returns.
• Royal Dutch DSM: Advice for the development of a system, to identify the social impact of the supply chain of products and processes (Social Life Cycle Analysis).
• Together with Imagine Nations, an investigation into the implementation and evaluation of an ‘Inclusive Business' strategy, for an inclusive farming business in Mozambique.

Integrated Reporting

• A study, commissioned by NEMACC, on the opportunities of integrated thinking and integrated reporting for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) (in association with NBA and E&Y).
• A study, on behalf of Eumedion, on the integration of sustainability into the business strategies of listed Dutch companies (in association with Shareholder Support).

Impact Investing

• PGGM: The development of a ‘social fact sheet’, so that the social impact of investment could be charted by fund managers, in addition to their ‘financial fact sheet’.


Within government, there is a long tradition of measuring impact. These measurements often consist of social cost-benefit analyses, which are taken prior to decision making. They are therefore based on predictions of impact. In recent years, there has been a growing focus on the actual evaluation of the impact of government programmes and policies. There is also a growing recognition, that these evaluations must reach a certain scientific level in order for them to yield meaningful results. Focus on so-called learning assessments is also beginning, albeit slowly, to grow. These evaluations aim not only to provide insight into the impact achieved, but also to shed light on success factors and points where improvements can be made.

In cooperation with PUM Netherlands senior experts (PUM), the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI), LEI Wageningen UR (LEI) and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE), the PRIME research project has been initiated. PRIME stands for ‘Pioneering Real-Time Impact Monitoring and Evaluation in small and medium-sized enterprises' and will run for five years. This research should lead to a more efficient approach and an improved evaluation methodology, for organizations engaged in stimulating the private sector in developing countries.


Civil society organizations are all pursuing a social mission. For both the implementing and donor organizations, measuring the impact of programs and projects is the only way to evaluate in how far this mission has been achieved. In fact, this impact and the extent to which they have contributed to this mission, is for these organizations, a measure of their effectiveness. We work closely, in this context, with the Erasmus Centre for Strategic Philanthropy (ECSP).

In collaboration with kennisbankfilantropie, we have developed the Performance Prediction Scan which is the basis for the (in Dutch).


There is a growing realization, that many social problems require an approach involving organizations from multiple sectors. This has spurred the formation of partnerships, often between public and private parties, also known as PPPs. Measuring the impact of these partnerships has a further dimension, as there is often no clear purpose or mission being pursued, because each partner has their own unique goal. In addition to this, it is often less clear what would have occurred, if the partnership had not been formed. In collaboration with the Partnership Resource Centre, we investigate these questions through concrete projects.

For KPN’s Mooiste Contact Fonds, we helped to support their partners (e.g., Resto Harte) in evaluating and optimizing their impact.


The Impact Measurement team works to highlight, through reports, publications, books and reports in the media, the broad field of impact measurement. Below is a summary of the many resources available.

In the media:

The various items listed below, give you an idea of some of the publications available on impact measurement.

• ‘The social impact of the Dutch Heart Foundation’, by Karen Maas in EBS.
• ‘Talk the walk: Measuring the impact of strategic philanthropy’, by Maas, K. & Liket, K. in the Journal of Business Ethics.
• 'Social impact measurement: A classification of methods’, Maas, K.E.H. & Liket, K.C. In: Burrit, R. (Ed.), Environmental Management Accounting and Supply Chain Management.
• ‘Why aren’t evaluations working and what to do about it: A framework for negotiating meaningful evaluation in nonprofits’, Liket, K.C., Garcia-Rey, M. (Harvard Kennedy School of Government), and Maas K.E.H. (Forthcoming) in the American Journal of Evaluation. An article about impact evaluations in social organizations.
• ‘Approaches to sustainability’, Liket, K.C. and Heugens, P.P.M.A.R. (Rotterdam School of Management) at Oxford Bibliographies Online. The Bibliography of Social Responsibility.
• ‘Management responses to social activism in an era of Corporate Social Responsibility: A case study’, Cranenburgh (van), K. C. (ESADE Business School; Heineken Africa Foundation), Liket, K.C. and Roome, N. (Vlerick School of Management) in the Journal of Business Ethics. A case study: Heineken and criticism of its way of dealing with local promoters in Cambodia. Download the pdf.
• "Battling the devolution in the research on corporate philanthropy’, Liket, K.C. and Simaens, A. (University of Lisbon) in the Journal of Business Ethics. Download the pdf.

If items cannot be downloaded via the hyperlink, than they can also be obtained from us on request.


If you are looking for further information about a specific study, other examples of current or completed impact studies or want to commission research into the impact of your organization or project, then please contact Dr. Karen Maas ( or dr. Kellie Liket (