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Paper info: Bridging business innovation and pure social innovations in extensive network settings

Title


Bridging business innovation and pure social innovations in extensive network settings

Authors


Daniel Schepis
University of Western Australia
Australia
Daniel Schepis and Ali Mollinger-Sahba

Place of Publication


The paper was published at the 34th IMP-conference in Marseille, France in 2018.

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Abstract


This study investigates the emergence of business innovation and pure social innovation in an extensive network setting (Aarikka-Stenroos et al. 2017). The study addresses a gap in our understanding of whether and how pure social innovations can be bridged with a for-profit motive, including for-profit motivated business innovations. In exploring this gap, we address the need for empirical contributions to the debate about the potential dark side of commercialising social innovations. We use the context of Australian social impact bonds (SIBs) in one Australian state to explore two research questions: (a) can business innovation and pure social innovation can be bridged in extensive network settings? and (b) if so, how is the process of bridging business innovation and pure social innovation peculiar compared to traditional conceptions of the business innovation process? SIBs can be described as a product on the social impact investment market, which is a concerned market (D'Antone et al. 2017) that seeks to generate social and business innovation through cross-sector organisational alliances. We draw on a Complexity Leadership Theory (CLT) framing, which posits that cognitive diversity of the type found in extensive network settings is required for innovation generation. We find that pure social innovations and business innovation can be bridged in an extensive network setting, but that these organisational alliances are peculiar in that the large scale diffusion of a pure social innovation does not necessarily accrue a commensurate diffusion of business innovation and financial benefit. We propose a reconceptualisation of the combined business-pure social innovation process in which commercial value is found primarily in the processes which link the stages of innovation, rather than in diffusion.