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Christian Busch and Harry Barkema

Social networks are crucial in the context of social innovation, as tackling grand challenges in environmental sustainability, education and poverty alleviation usually requires partnerships across sectors. Over the last few decades, extensive research about the role of networks in commercial venture creation and development has been produced. However, we know surprisingly little about network development and transition in the context of social innovation, and there is a clear need for understanding how and why social enterprises develop networks for important social outcomes such as social inclusion. The purpose of this chapter is to review the network literature relevant to social innovation and to suggest potential avenues for further research. The authors develop a framework of Transformative Network Orchestration that helps to anchor social networks – and the related leadership approaches – in the context of social innovation. The framework addresses a gap in our collective understanding of how networks evolve in the context of social innovation and opens up intriguing avenues for further inquiry.