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Danielle Logue

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Danielle Logue

In this chapter I provide a meta-review of social innovation and the many contemporary and multi-disciplinary efforts to define and theorize social innovation. This review identified a range of common conceptual characteristics of social innovation and revealed general agreement that social innovation is the pursuit of social change, and the type of social change sought is often significant and consequential, sustainable and ultimately institutionalized. I identify six core aspects of social innovation that emerge from these multi-disciplinary discussions: social value, source, significance or scale of change, and more recently a focus on collectivity, diversity and relationality. Yet there is little explicit theorization of social value beyond the idea that producing it is desired and a ‘good’ thing to do, and limited consideration of the different values of the actors involved. This observation provides the opening to theorize social innovation from a range of more positivist to constructivist positions on social value, and ultimately ‘goodness’.

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Danielle Logue

In Chapter 2, I theorize social innovation as social value creation, social value capture and social value distribution. I refer to social value specifically as it enables distinction between processes and outcomes of social value creation and value capture, and builds off the historical anchoring of social innovation in ideas about value co-production. This draws on a more positivist interpretation of the generation and allocation of ‘value’, with social value being similarly organized and managed to economic value. What I find missing in existing literature however is any theorizing of value distribution, an essential and distinct mechanism in social innovation for ensuring the value produced and captured is indeed shared. As such I necessarily theorize the idea of social value distribution based on the notion that social innovation is about collectivity and sharing of rewards (and risk for that matter), presenting three models of social value distribution. I suggest this is particularly valuable for understanding the social value distribution inherent in particular organizational models of social enterprise.

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Danielle Logue

In Chapter 3, I argue that understanding social innovation as polysemous means recognizing the different values – within different institutional logics – that guide different societal domains that often participate in socially innovative arrangements. In describing the domains of public sector, private or business sector, and not-for-profit sector, and their understandings of social innovation and rationales for participating, we can see how values may not align or how cross-sector partnerships try to align or integrate different moral values as to responsibility, roles and desired outcomes. As such, a polysemic view of social innovation reveals the plurality and complexity in navigating social values for social innovation, and presents an inherent conundrum: it is these differences in understanding that are both a source and barrier for social innovation. In this chapter I suggest that recognizing the polysemous nature of social innovation affords a more critical inquiry of social innovation, requiring scholars to consider the multi-constructions of social problems and solutions (and their prioritizations) and the role of power in determining how multiple meanings (or views) of problems and solutions are established and what (and whose) values dominate.

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Danielle Logue

In Chapter 4, I theorize social innovation as about social change and so thereby institutional change. Understanding social innovation as institutional change means understanding and recognizing how certain values and ideas about ‘right and wrong’ are embedded in social structures, rules, routines and of course, meaning systems that constrain and enable (socially innovative) action. I describe how social innovation occurs across levels – individual, organization and field – and is often driven by efforts to introduce or change social structures to reflect different or new social values. This is particularly apparent when examining hybrid organizations such as social enterprises or when developing cross-field arrangements and partnerships. I propose this particular lens to provide a social-cultural focus on theorizing social innovation across levels of analysis and also in seeking to institutionalize these changes and new ways of organizing and managing for social impact.

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Danielle Logue

In this chapter, in seeking to both bring to the fore and better theorize the fundamental relationship between social innovation, values and morality and implicit notions of ‘doing good’ and ‘being good’, I return to historical works of Adam Smith and early conceptions of morality in ‘economy’ and ‘society’. I also consider more recent work (comparatively) in economic sociology and organizational theory that examines morality in markets and the construction of moral legitimacy. In the second part of this chapter I take a different turn as I begin to explore how these theories and notions of social innovation and social value can be invoked in decision-making. I consider phronesis as a rich and relational approach to morality and decision-making, and so helpful in theorizing settings and applications of social innovation. Using this approach, I suggest that articulating ‘theories of impact’ may support theoretical and empirical exploration of social innovation and that social innovation also be considered in practice as a process of moral-relational decision-making.

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Danielle Logue

In this concluding chapter, I examine three core tensions that are dominant in practitioner and policy discourse regarding social innovation: (1) managing hybridity; (2) measuring impact; and (3) governing collaborations. In contrast to earlier chapters that outline ways of theorizing social innovation, in this chapter I take a reverse approach and consider three empirical and practitioner areas of tension associated with social innovation and explore how to theorize to make both empirical and theoretical contributions. Managing hybridity is a central concern for the growing numbers of social enterprises globally, further complicated when traditional organizations (either private sector or not-for-profit sector) attempt to integrate social enterprises into existing structures. It raises issues of hybrid intensity, legitimacy and integration. Impact measurement is another global concern across sectors and organizations, and here I review social impact assessment and reporting, methods to compare social interventions and the emerging array of impact measurement tools. I suggest there is much opportunity in theorizing this central tension in social innovation by exploring the sociology of valuation and evaluation. In managing collaborations, I expand ideas of polycentric governance, inclusive innovation and public entrepreneurship, and also suggest conceptualizing ‘systems of social innovation’ to govern, coordinate and direct efforts towards specific social problems. After all, social innovation as a term itself emerged from practitioner literature. While some of these tensions are introduced in earlier chapters, here I examine each in detail, covering the empirical debates and suggestions for theorizing.

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Danielle Logue

As we grapple with how to respond to some of the world’s most pressing problems, such as inequality, poverty and climate change, there is growing global interest in ‘social innovation’ as a potential solution. But what exactly is ‘social innovation’? This book describes three ways to theorise social innovation when seeking to manage and organize for both social and economic progress.