Interconnected Areas of Research: Collaborations in Social Innovation

Interconnected Areas of Research: Collaborations in Social Innovation

Derya Fındık (Ankara Yıldırım Beyazıt Üniversitesi, Turkey), Erdal Akdeve (Ankara Sosyal Bilimler Üniversitesi, Turkey) and Gülsen Kaya Osmanbaşoğlu (Ankara Sosyal Bilimler Üniversitesi, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1108-4.ch008
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The authors aim at revealing themes in this research field throughout the years between 1970 and 2016 by using the terms of social innovation and collaboration together. They apply co-citation analysis to find out the theoretical foundations of this recently emerged field. Thus, they obtain six clusters with different attributes, such as cross-sector partnerships in social innovation, the definition of social innovation, transition studies, social entrepreneurship, innovation studies, and inter-organizational relations.
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The number of studies on the concept of social innovation has increased overwhelmingly in recent years. This concept, unlike the traditional definition of innovation emphasizing value creation activities such as idea generation, prototyping, and commercialization, deals with the social benefits of the created value and aims at sustaining these benefits. While the profit-oriented innovation paradigm does not place much concern for the environmental impacts of production, social innovation activities focus more on the production of environmentally friendly technologies, installation of energy-saving facilities, and the roles of local actors in finding solutions to problems emerging at local levels.

Achieving predetermined societal goals requires the inclusion of actors from different sectors such as firms, non-profits, local actors, and society at large. These parties form various types of collaborations such as cross-sector partnerships, social alliances, and social partnerships. Cross-sector partnerships, being used interchangeably with the concept of social alliances (Le Ber and Branzei, 2010), emerge between firms and non-profit organizations in order to achieve a common societal goal, while both parties sustain their efforts over maximizing their own benefits. In social alliances, unlike strategic alliances, non-profit organizations or, broadly speaking, the whole of society is one of the parties. When commercial firms become party to social innovations, they tend to see themselves as ‘good corporate citizens’ (Berger et al, 2004). This type of partnership enables each party to focus on social problems and find appropriate solutions with the help of non-profit organizations. In other words, all parties including both non-profits and firms benefit from these partnerships. Another type of partnership is called social partnerships (Seitanidi and Crane, 2009). Similar to social alliances, all partners, being composed of public and private sector institutions, share their resources in order to accomplish a predetermined goal. Complementarity among partners’ resources is desired to achieve success. Since each party has different motivations, a detailed examination is required to obtain successful outcomes. Such partnerships sometimes arise from necessity. For instance, firms may not have access to local markets due to their distinctive features and need to get in touch with local communities to clearly identify their needs and expectations. Moreover, developing the skills required to solve problems is costly both in terms of time and money. Thus, firms outsource some assets such as knowledge and skills due to production costs. These partnerships, on the other hand, commonly end by mutual miscommunication in a short time. Each party may have a fear of losing control and power, or mistrust may develop among parties. Considering all these examples, we aim at understanding the structure of collaborations in social innovation activities focusing on the studies that terms of collaboration and social innovation intersect. There has not been any study dealing with these practical issues. This study contributes to the current literature in at least three ways. Firstly, to our knowledge, collaboration in social innovation literature is only now elaborated on in this present study. Secondly, core themes and potential diversification among research streams in the field are determined by using co-citation analysis. Thirdly, we propose a set of implications based on the current structure of the network. The following section elaborates on data and methodology. The third section focuses on results. We discuss conclusions and implications for further research in the last section.

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