As we grapple with how to respond to some of the world’s most pressing problems, there is growing global interest in ‘social innovation’ as a potential solution. But what exactly is ‘social innovation’? And how can it help us to think about problems such as inequality, poverty and climate change?
Danielle Logue theorizes social innovation as a contemporary manifestation of the historical tensions between ‘economy’ and ‘society’ and the simultaneous pursuit of economic and social progress. Going back to the historical work of Adam Smith and his discussion of markets and morality, the author draws on organizational and management theory to present three theoretical lenses for understanding social innovation. These lenses include theorizing social innovation as social value creation, capture and distribution; social innovation as polysemous; and social innovation as institutional change. She then considers some of the current issues confronting social innovation in practice and the challenges for organizations in ‘doing good’ and ‘being good’.
This generative introduction is targeted at graduate and doctoral students, as well as non-specialist academics. It aims to stimulate further discussion and analysis by providing a comprehensive understanding of social innovation and a choice of frameworks when examining complex and wicked problems and the organization and management of efforts to solve them.