Golub Capital Social Impact Lab Aims to Enhance Social Sector Effectiveness


Golub Capital Social Impact Lab Aims to Enhance Social Sector Effectiveness

The recently launched lab aims to support and guide innovation in the social sector.
October 28, 2019
Three individuals brainstorming over a computer, laughing. Credit: Elena Zhukova
The new lab will leverage digital technology to advance the effectiveness of organizations in the social sector.| Elena Zhukova

Stanford Graduate School of Business today announced the launch of a new social impact lab that aims to use digital technology and social science research to improve the effectiveness of leading social sector organizations.

The Golub Capital Social Impact Lab will help leading social sector organizations solve pressing challenges by providing a platform for faculty and students to advance digital innovation in the social sector while catalyzing groundbreaking social impact research and tangible outcomes. Led by initial Faculty Director Susan Athey, The Economics of Technology Professor, the lab is a collaborative, cross-disciplinary initiative involving a team of academics, staff, and student researchers from Stanford GSB and the broader Stanford University community.

“The launch of the Golub Capital Lab reinforces the school’s commitment to driving social impact and innovation,” said Jonathan Levin, Philip H. Knight Professor and dean of Stanford GSB. “By harnessing faculty research and teaching, student interest, and the breadth and depth of expertise across, and outside of, Stanford University, this lab could have a groundbreaking impact in the social sector.”

The lab will use two key activities to drive measurable social impact: collaborating on original research, and sharing insights and best practices.

  • Collaborate on original research: Stanford GSB faculty will lead researcher and student teams to work directly with social impact partners to help them leverage digital innovation, test and refine interventions, and measure outcomes with the goal of optimizing impact.
  • Share insights and best practices: Through research projects, the lab will work to promote, develop, and apply innovative technology solutions and best-practice methodologies at organizations. The research will yield insights about how the social sector can effectively leverage technology; those insights will be captured and disseminated to students and practitioners to guide future innovation.

The research projects, which will be turned into case studies to use for future teaching, provide hands-on, experiential learning opportunities to Stanford GSB students and students across the Stanford University community. Project focus areas include:

  • Machine learning, data-driven personalization, and adaptive assignment to interventions
  • A/B testing and rapid innovation cycles in technology and social impact firms
  • Developing key performance indicators that capture social objectives yet are simultaneously measurable in a time frame appropriate for incremental and rapid innovation
  • Addressing policy issues that arise in implementation

An initial course was launched in conjunction with the Golub Capital Lab: GSBGEN 513: Using Technology and Market Interventions to Solve Social Problems. In development is a second new course, where Stanford GSB students will work on projects together with collaborating social sector organizations.

As the Golub Capital Lab evolves, faculty and staff will continue to build partnerships and collaborations with Stanford GSB, Stanford University, and beyond to identify and leverage new faculty experts, resources, social impact ventures and organizations, and project work to maximize impact in the social sector.

The Golub Capital Social Impact Lab is named in recognition of support from David B. Golub, MBA ’87, and Lawrence Golub.

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