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Towards Advancing Understanding of Social Innovation Professor Anne de Bruin Director New Zealand Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research Centre.

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Presentation on theme: "Towards Advancing Understanding of Social Innovation Professor Anne de Bruin Director New Zealand Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research Centre."— Presentation transcript:

1 Towards Advancing Understanding of Social Innovation Professor Anne de Bruin Director New Zealand Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research Centre (SIERC) Professor of Economics Massey University, New Zealand Presentation to Challenge Social Innovation September 2011 Vienna, Austria

2 Summary Seeks to advance social innovation (SI) on 2 fronts through: 1.Discussion of New Zealand insights Historical and contemporary experience of SI Role and activities of the New Zealand Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research Centre (SIERC) Premises: Building the community of like-minded scholars and other interested stakeholders is vital and Dissemination of country-based social innovation insights are invaluable, to growing the field of social innovation. 2.Discussion on the macro-micro dichotomous strands of the SI discourse and how the macro-micro divide might be bridged

3 New Zealand Context Long tradition and image of a pioneering 'social laboratory’ e.g women’s right to vote (other leading democracies after WW1) Contemporary SI e.g. Maori restorative justice Yet SI rarely features in research and policy Emphasis on innovation in science & technology Drastic change in focus to include social innovation is long overdue Social science research can play a critical role in re-focus

4 New Zealand Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research Centre (SIERC) Recent rise in institutes, consultancies (Howaldt And Schwartz 2010) SIERC among latest – latter half of 2010 Massey University Only academic research centre in NZ devoted to the area Mission: ‘To be a centre of research excellence dedicated to advancing SI and entrepreneurship in New Zealand and internationally’ Objectives: include more NZ specific foci: ‘To become the pre-eminent research centre and knowledge hub for SI and entrepreneurship in NZ; In association with Government - central, regional and local; professional, business and community groups, to contribute toward SI in New Zealand.’ Other objectives: emphasise the role of research collaborations and partnerships in building SI knowledge Interdisciplinary research is a core value. Research associates and external research affiliates of the Centre from across the Social Science and Humanities disciplines Research associates – Massey University Research affiliates widen the research capability

5 SIERC Initiatives Designed to disseminate and grow knowledge 2011 ‘Massey University Albany Campus Innovation Lecture Series’ is in association with the Centre. SIERC’s Director Anne de Bruin and external affiliate Eleanor Shaw are co-editing a Special Issue of the International Small Business Journal on the theme ‘Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship: Extending Theory, Integrating Practice’ with the Call for Papers now open. An inaugural Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Conference will be held from 1- 3 December 2011 at Massey University's Albany Campus.

6 SIERC Research: Success factors of social innovation in New Zealand Effective leadership - leadership style and influences vary Measurement difficulties - lack of measures to quantify more important, but less tangibly measurable goals Faith-based organisations - adapting to new needs in communities and society in innovative ways Renewal of existing ideas in different contexts and for different purposes e.g. youth councils Civic entrepreneurship (Goldsmith 2010) – catalyse SI by building partnerships and navigating the choppy seas of bureaucracy

7 Social Science Researchers Act as (modified) Gramscian ‘organic intellectuals’ ‘Every social group, coming into existence on the original terrain of an essential function in the world of economic production creates together with itself, organically, one or more strata of intellectuals which give it homogeneity and an awareness of its own function not only in the economic but also in the social and political fields’ (Gramsci 1971 transl: 5). Academics mindful of their ‘critic and conscience of society’ responsibilities which is a statutory obligation for NZ universities Play a crucial role in advancing SI theory and practice Must work not as leaders but in partnership with other stakeholders to support social innovation and social and environmental change movements (albeit research leaders). Researchers in the field of SI have a ‘responsible reciprocity’ and higher obligations Their interdisciplinary study and advocacy of social innovation can supplement and complement the current mainstream technical innovation perspective to provide a holistic and inclusive innovation paradigm.

8 Dichotomous Discourses Macro - dramatic change in the processes and structure of innovation, new era of multiple actors, corporate SI, call for recognition of a new innovation paradigm Discourse on the nature of innovation in general, and the role and importance of social innovation is a more overarching one. Micro – SI is embedded rather than a dedicated strand of this general social entrepreneurship discussion and is linked to innovations by social entrepreneurs. Neither consensus on the meaning of the term social entrepreneurship nor the boundaries of the field

9 Bridge: Common Definitional Threads? SI Definitions Novel social practices (Howaldt and Schwartz 2010) New ideas to meet social needs (Mulgan et al 2007) Novel solution to a social problem (Phills, Dieglmeire and Miller 2008) Absence of definitional consensus not unexpected for a new field of study and given the complexity of social innovation

10 Social Entrepreneurship (SE) Opportunity – entrepreneurship consensus An opportunity based definition of Social Entrepreneurship: ‘Social entrepreneurship encompasses the activities and processes undertaken to discover, define, and exploit opportunities in order to enhance social wealth by creating new ventures or managing existing organizations in an innovative manner’ (Zahra et al. 2008: 118).

11 Connecting SI & SE definitional strands Opportunity discovery and development process, may be conceived in terms of finding and developing solutions to problems (Shane 2003; Nickerson and Zenger 2004; Hsieh et al. 2007; de Bruin and Ferrante 2011). Aligning with Zahra et al. definition of SE and Phills, Dieglmeire and Miller definition of SI  problem-solution perspective therefore provides a bridge

12 Thoughts Interpretative social problem-solution framework can be useful for framing research questions Different solution paths – path-breaking, radical; incremental and path-dependent Social problems: at different levels - Local, regional, national, global Interconnections Scaling potential

13 Comment Research groupings and centres through their activities can build and disseminate knowledge in the field and bring together like-minded scholars and other stakeholders to catalyse the awareness and ‘preparedness of society to adopt new solutions for needs and challenges” (Hochgerner 2010). A critical mass of like-minded researchers and protagonists of SI are needed to change the lopsided perspective on innovation, which unduly emphasises technical innovation, to a holistic and inclusive standpoint on innovation.

14 Thank you for listening


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