The Role of Organizations, Markets and Communities in Social Innovation
Edited by Gerard George, Ted Baker, Paul Tracey and Havovi Joshi
Chapter 9: Community social innovation: taking a long view on community enterprise
Community enterprises represent an important source of learning for those wishing to do inclusive innovation. This chapter argues that renewed attention should be given to research around long-term and place-based community economic organizations, not least as they are precursors to contemporary social enterprises. As microsites of resistance to macro change, which constantly innovate and support collective action over generations in the poorest of places, they offer a rich vein of research opportunities. The authors describe alternative and holistic perspectives of community enterprise as having shaped practice. Drawing on historical and contemporary research (including their own in Canada and the UK) they develop a model of community social innovation that draws on the interrelationship of entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship and extrapreneurship. The research presented highlights the common challenges of community economic organizations, namely, the struggle for legitimacy, a voice and sustained impact. The authors emphasise the embedded nature of community enterprise, and the role of support organizations and the state in helping or hindering place-based economic development. They call for authentic narratives of community enterprise which account for their own, context-dependent, measures of success. Two potential pitfalls involved in researching community organizations are highlighted: myopia and sugar-coating. The authors recommend the use of participatory, creative and slow research methods to strengthen engagement with participants, not only to ensure the veracity but also the relevance of research. Future research would benefit from a more nuanced understanding of the relational dynamics between community enterprises, individuals and other organizations. Through revealing the temporal processes involved in place-based socio-economic development the authors hope that community research can enrich the field of social innovation.
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