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Theories of Social Innovation

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.
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Chapter 4: Social innovation as institutional change

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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