Social Impact Bonds and Fast Policy: Analyzing the Australian Experience

Jacob Broom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Social impact bonds (SIBs) are attracting an increasing amount of critical scholarly attention. As an outcomes-based mechanism for financing social services, SIBs financialize social policy through the logic of impact investing. Responding to calls for attention to the politics of SIBs’ development, and breaking with the literature’s focus on cases from the UK and USA, this article explores the emergence of SIBs in Australia. It employs the concept of “fast policy,” which theorizes why and how policies move across borders, and describes the contemporary conditions that enable them to do so. Using document analysis, the article explores the discursive devices and practices used to justify the “pulling in” of SIBs to states in Australia. It finds that key actors in the Australian social impact world justified SIBs’ adoption using their synergy with powerful, popular policy discourses and practices, rather than engaging in political debates about their desirability. The Australian experience illuminates the power of intermediaries and the investors they represent over the design and proliferation of SIBs, as well as the roles played by austerity politics, policy experimentalism, and fast policy infrastructures in producing a context in which SIBs could be made real.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-130
Number of pages18
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


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