Between innovation and restoration; towards a critical-historicizing understanding of social innovation niches

Bonno Pel*, Rene Kemp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

Social innovation (SI) is gaining attention as an innovation category. However, the SI concept proves vulnerable to stereotypical understandings. Next to the radically novel, diffusion-oriented and thereby manifestly innovative social 'niches', it is important to also acknowledge the rather latent SI phenomena of restoration and shielding. This paper therefore develops a critical-historicizing perspective that highlights the social construction of innovations in social relations. Building on scholarship in Strategic Niche Management, grassroots innovation and critical innovation studies, four 'shapes of social innovation' are distinguished. Substantiating and deepening this conceptual classification through empirical evidence on 20 SI initiatives, the analysis highlights how social innovations may take on several of the theorised appearances throughout their existence in society (shapeshifting). Disclosing overlooked SI phenomena, this critical-historicizing understanding informs more comprehensive and balanced SI research and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1182-1194
Number of pages13
JournalTechnology Analysis & Strategic Management
Volume32
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2020

Keywords

  • Social innovation
  • Strategic niche Management
  • innovation history
  • reinvention
  • GRASS-ROOTS INNOVATIONS
  • TRANSITIONS
  • SUSTAINABILITY
  • TYPOLOGY
  • ECONOMY

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