5 December 2014

Call for papers: "The Relation between Technology and Social Innovation"

For a special issue of the International Journal of Transitions and Innovation Systems.

Social innovation is a result of any accomplishment meeting unsatisfied human needs. Examples of these include the cases of socio-healthcare services (Mulgan 2006; Phills, Deiglmeier and Miller 2008), and of wasted resources and environmental emergences, e.g lower urban pollution in inhabited areas or soil consumption (Rennings 2000; Calef and Goble 2007). Other cases are represented by the development of social services and interventions in favour of disadvantaged and marginalized areas, e.g. development of a regional system (Díez-Vial and Fernández-Olmos 2012), or vulnerable groups, e.g. outcasts, disabled persons, the elderly, and immigrants (Gonzalez and Figueroa 2010). Generally speaking, the establishment of welfare services dedicated to the general population, such as education, family support services, etc.

Using a broader definition, social innovation is achieved every time people’s standards of living are increased and, to use to words of Murray, Grice and Mulgan (2010, p.3), social innovation is “new ideas (products, services and models) that simultaneously meet social needs and create new social relationships or collaborations”. Social innovation is not only the discovery of radical new concepts; it may also refer to an effective and sustainable application of products, services and models in an innovative way (Phills et al. 2008). Effectiveness refers to the optimised use of resources to achieve social outcomes. Sustainabilityrefers to the capacity of self-financing and being independent from external stakeholders (Perrini and Vurro 2006).

However, despite the long debate on social innovation, there is still a lack of understanding in how the development of the initial idea is unfolded (Perrini and Vurro 2006). Surely, the first step of any possible innovation is to identify a potential unsatisfied social need. Yet, this need requires to be coupled with the present opportunities to satisfy it (Mulgan 2006). New opportunities may come thanks to technological advancements or “traditional innovation” that open new ways for delivering social value to society (Williams and Edge 1996; Murray et al. 2010).

The examples are countless: online technologies offered the possibility of freely accessing and sharing knowledge to everybody (Mulgan 2006); remote devices allowed the monitoring of health conditions of patients and the elderly, thus permitting the prompt activation of medical and first aid procedures when needed. Thereof, it is undeniable that the action of modern social actors can be enhanced by technological advancements (Williams and Edge 1996). However, it less clear how the relation of social innovation and technology co-evolves. The process that leads to perceive such “traditional” innovations as potential bearers of potential social outcomes, for example, is still largely understudied (Halme and Laurila 2009). Furthermore, despite having opportunities offered by technological progress, in some parts of the world social innovations struggle to take place (Kanter 1999; Molina-Morales and Giuliani 2012).

Given the above considerations, this call aims to deepen the relation that exists between social innovation and technology and invites both theoretical and empirical papers. In particular, we welcome papers that, using integrated frameworks, can blend traditional innovation paradigms with those pertinent to social entrepreneurship and innovation.

The issue will carry revised and substantially extended versions of selected papers presented at the track "Entrepreneurship and societal change" of the Entrepreneurship SIG of the EURAM 2015 Conference, but we also strongly encourage researchers unable to participate in the conference to submit articles for this call. However, authors interested in submitting papers for the call are encouraged to consider informally presenting their works at the conference.

Calef, D., & Goble, R. (2007). “The allure of technology: How France and California promoted electric and hybrid vehicles to reduce urban air pollution”. Policy sciences, 40(1): 1-34.
Díez–Vial, I., & Fernández–Olmos, M. (2012). “The impact of local technology institutions and R&D investments on information and knowledge flows inside clusters.” International Journal of Transitions and Innovation Systems, 2(2): 194-209.
Gonzalez M., & Figueroa P. (2010). “Intellectual capital on regional innovation systems: Toward the momentum of growth rates of business performance.” International Journal of Transitions and Innovation Systems, 1(1): 82-99.
Halme, M., & Laurila, J. (2009). “Philanthropy, integration or innovation? Exploring the financial and societal outcomes of different types of corporate responsibility”, Journal of Business Ethics, 84(3): 325-339.
Kanter, R. M. (1999). “From spare change to real change: The social sector as beta site for business innovation.” Harvard business review, 77: 122-133.
Molina–Morales, F. X., & Giuliani, E. (2012). “The cluster model: whether and what developing countries should learn from advanced countries”. International Journal of Transitions and Innovation Systems, 2(3): 219-232.
Mulgan, G. (2006). “The process of social innovation”. Innovation, 1(2): 145-162.
Murray, R., Caulier-Grice, J., & Mulgan, G. (2010). The open book of social innovation. NESTA: London, UK
Perrini, F., & Vurro, C. (2006). “Social entrepreneurship: Innovation and social change across theory and practice.” Social entrepreneurship, 23 (1): 57-85.
Phills, J. A., Deiglmeier, K., & Miller, D. T. (2008). “Rediscovering social innovation.” Stanford Social Innovation Review, 6(4): 34-43.
Rennings, K. (2000). “Redefining innovation—eco-innovation research and the contribution from ecological economics.” Ecological economics, 32(2): 319-332.
Sørensen, F., & Mattsson, J. (2013). “City Development as Open Innovation.” International Journal of Transitions and Innovation Systems, 2(2): 151-168
Williams, R., & Edge, D. (1996). “The social shaping of technology.” Research policy, 25(6): 865-899.

Suitable topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Social innovations resulting from technological advancements
  • The role of technology, although not specifically intended or designed for social outcomes, in sustaining and developing social innovations
  • Social entrepreneurship or NPO strategies and the use of technology
  • Efficiency and suitability of social innovations delivered thanks to technology and traditional innovations
  • Development of "social" sensitivity in traditional entrepreneurs thanks to technological advancements
  • Failures of social innovations due to lack of sustainability in terms of feasible technology
  • The lack of social innovation despite the existence of possibilities offered by a technology to deliver social value
  • Creation of social ventures in order to exploit a specific technology
  • Technological advancements obtained thanks to social entrepreneurship or innovation
  • Regional cases, especially from developing and emerging countries, of social innovations and development achieved thanks to technological progress

Important Dates
Submission to EURAM 2015 conference (optional): 13 January, 2015
Submission of extended papers to the special issue: 30 April, 2015
Submission of revised papers following referee comments: 30 June, 2015

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