Global Innovators: How Open Innovation Serves Humanity

Global Innovators: How Open Innovation Serves Humanity

Robert Girling (Sonoma State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3886-0.ch063
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Abstract

Innovation is vital to sustain and advance current activities or it can be vital to growing new businesses. The challenge for organizations operating in a global environment is to meet the evolution of the marketplace, social needs, and the needs of society. Open innovation allows organizations to draw from the global pool of knowledge to design products and business modes that provide value while meeting social needs. This chapter looks at several SMEs that are social innovators drawing on a range of technologies to create products and services or to commercialize existing products in a new way in order to meet pressing social needs round the world.
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Background

Globalization has been accompanied by increasing consumer concern about the health consequences and working conditions under which goods are produced. Consumers want to know “are companies treating their workers fairly, are they being paid fairly, do the products contain harmful chemicals, is the workplace safe?” A growing number of citizens are coming to realize that the decisions of companies where they work or shop has an impact on others all around the globe. And there is genuine cause for concern: Consider that only 12 percent of the price of a pair of jeans goes to the workers who made them in Honduras or Cambodia. UNITE (the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees) found that in El Salvador, the minimum wage for workers is 60 cents an hour, but an employee must earn at least $1.73 to pull themselves out of poverty. Consider that only 10 per cent of the price of your espresso or cappuccino went to the grower. On a world scale 850 million people earn less than a living wage and there are some 250 million child laborers between 4 and 14 years of age. These issues have led to global efforts to establish standards of fair and ethical trade (Young and Welford, 2002).1 (See also Table 1)

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