The Evolution of Social Innovation
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The Evolution of Social Innovation

Building Resilience Through Transitions

Edited by Frances Westley, Katherine McGowan and Ola Tjörnbo

In a time where governments and civil society organizations are putting ever-greater stock in social innovation as a route to transformation, understanding what characterizes social innovation with transformative potential is important. Exciting and promising ideas seem to die out as often as they take flight, and market mechanisms, which go a long way towards contributing to successful technical innovations, play an insignificant role in social innovations. The cases in this book explore the evolution of successful social innovation through time, from the ideas which catalysed social and system entrepreneurs to create new processes, platforms, projects and programs to fundamental social shifts in culture, economics, laws and policies which occurred as a result. In doing so, the authors shed light on how to recognize transformative potential in the early stage innovations we see today.
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Chapter 12: Synthesis: tracking transformative impacts and cross-scale dynamics

Michele-Lee Moore


Those interested in social innovation are often simultaneously interested in the concepts of scale and scaling for impact. The social innovation cases in this book reveal new understandings of scale and cross-scale dynamics in the history of innovation. The manner in which the actors involved in developing social innovations in a niche scale may expand and contract in number and type over time, the role that macro, landscape scale norms and values may play, and the critical influence that regime scale actors choose to exert (or not), all shape which social innovations prove to be most transformative. Granted, everything appears connected to everything else these days, but cases in this book highlight that it is the complex web of layered and nested connections and the way in which they cross the boundaries of space, time, sectors, knowledge, moral and philosophical principles, identities, resource types, and ideas that will matter most to social innovation.

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