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Barriers to social impact bond implementation: a review of evidence from the UK and US

Mikkel Munksgaard Andersen (Department of Management, Society and Communication, Copenhagen Business School, Copenhagen, Denmark)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 4 September 2023

Issue publication date: 5 December 2023




This study investigates barriers to social impact bond (SIB) implementation through a review of academic and gray literature. A SIB is a type of public policy instrument that leverages payment for performance (P4P), contracting together with private investments in the delivery of welfare programs. Outcome-based contracts, such as SIBs, are gaining attraction for public service providers in developed countries, but research regarding their implementation remains underexplored both empirically and theoretically.


A literature review is conducted in which two types of documents are included: (1) empirical research papers and (2) evaluations of completed SIB projects. In total, 43 documents have been investigated. The study engages in a comparative design where insights across sectors (healthcare, social care and employment/education), are leveraged. The insights rest on evidence from the UK and US.


The investigation reveals five types of barriers to SIB implementation related to: (1) the SIB model, (2) organizational competencies, (3) data infrastructure, (4) stakeholder engagement and (5) the institutional context. The study discusses ways of managing these barriers and develops a conceptual framework for empirically investigating SIB implementation.


This study is the first academic paper to systematically assess insights regarding the implementation of SIBs. Also, the article proposes a conceptual framework for investigating SIB implementation.



Andersen, M.M. (2023), "Barriers to social impact bond implementation: a review of evidence from the UK and US", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 36 No. 6/7, pp. 512-529.



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