UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


Re-imagining public value with the BBC

The UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) is undertaking a research project with the BBC to examine how to research and co-design new assessment methods for public value.

About the project

The UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose is undertaking a short research project over summer 2020 with the BBC to examine how to research and co-design new assessment methods for public value. Better understanding how to reimagine, practice and evaluate public value is key to the mission of IIPP, so we are delighted to be taking part of this project.

Key to our understanding of public value is the need to understand the public sector not just as a market fixer but a market shaper. This means co-creating value. This faces a bottleneck as the notion of value is often confused with price, and is dictated by market ideals of efficiency and cost reduction as opposed to long-term value creation and purpose. 

At IIPP we argue that public value is co-created and co-shaped by a diversity of actors that include the state, business and the third sector. The BBC is perhaps the UK’s most visible public value creator — and an example of the entrepreneurial state — with a trusted global brand that is synonymous with the highest quality media content. The Corporation’s remit to “act in the public interest, serving all audiences through the provision of impartial, high-quality and distinctive output and services which inform, educate and entertain” is comprehensive and aspirational. But this value is sometimes hard to convey in measures that are reliant on cost alone.

Understanding value as co-created requires a market shaping logic rather than market fixing one. As an innovative public institution, the BBC creates huge public value, but in some debates about the institution there is an implicit accusation that the broadcaster is ‘crowding out’ the market through the scale and quality of its services. In this short project, IIPP is working with the BBC to consider dynamic new ways to assess its contribution as market creator. Rather than beginning with a market failure framework, which sees public organisations like the BBC as only relevant in their capacity to fix market failures (such as public goods that are not invested in by the private sector), we will look at the BBC through a market shaping framework. We argue that the criteria for evaluating and assessing public organisations that stem from such a framework are very different from those that stem from a market failure one. Over summer 2020, we will be developing and testing metrics that assess how the BBC delivers against its mission, creating public value and in the process co-creating and shaping markets.


Reimagining public value with the BBC

27 April 2021, 6:00 pm–7:00 pm

In this webinar, Clare Sumner, Director of Policy at the BBC and Mariana Mazzucato, founding Director of IIPP, discussed the dynamic new ways the BBC can look at its value as a market creator.

Watch the video


As a result of our work with the BBC, we have published a scoping report titled 'Creating and measuring dynamic public value at the BBC' which outlines an early stage prototype of an evaluation framework that can measure dynamic public value at three levels — at the direct layer (the essential baseline), at the “dynamic” layer which accounts for the spillover effects of activity and then at the “market shaping” layer that looks at how value is catalysed by the BBC and co-created with others. 


Evidence submission for the House of Lords “BBC future funding” inquiry
In the media
On public purpose
  • IIPP is changing how public value is imagined, practised and evaluated to tackle societal challenges. Read our brochure.
On market shaping
On public value
On public value and market shaping
  • Mazzucato, M. and Ryan-Collins, J. (2019). “Putting value creation back into ‘public value’: From market fixing to market shaping”, UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, Working Paper (IIPP WP 2019-05). https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/public-purpose/wp2019-05
Previous work on the BBC