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The Rise of the Hybrid Domain

Collaborative Governance for Social Innovation

Yuko Aoyama and Balaji Parthasarathy

By conceptualizing the rise of the hybrid domain as an emerging institutional form that overlaps public and private interests, this book explores how corporations, states, and civil society organizations develop common agendas, despite the differences in their primary objectives. Using evidence from India, it examines various cases of social innovation in education, energy, health, and finance, which offer solutions for some of the most pressing social challenges of the twenty-first century.
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Chapter 6: Designing solutions for “wicked problems”

Yuko Aoyama and Balaji Parthasarathy

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This chapter explains how the private sector is incorporating greater social missions in innovation activities. We focus on the role of design, which has become a prominent concept in the innovation literature (Goldberg, 2013; Utterback et al., 2006; Verganti, 2009). We begin with strategies to access the necessary knowledge to tackle “wicked problems” (see Chapter 4), such as de-featuring, frugal innovation, bottom-up design, design for constraints, and cross-sectoral solutions. We discuss social learning strategies within India, the exchange of knowledge within the Global South, and so-called reverse innovation, or knowledge flows from the Global South to the Global North.

Our interviews in India showed how widespread wicked problems are, and how deep and abundant the needs for solutions. Devices with certain designs offer effective avenues to tackle wicked problems. An interviewee who runs a medical device firm (S19) described the role of design as follows:

Design is what sits between the technology and your solution. It’s about how you configure your product. For example, if you know that there is limited electricity, people have limited skills, a device that requires high levels of training is unlikely to fly. If you know that availability to clean water is limited there will be hygiene issues, this has to be built into how you conceive a solution. Sometimes there may not be any technological breakthroughs, but it might be about design. Technology just enables the design.1

Engaging with the emerging market segment is...

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