Methodological Rationale

Methodological Rationale

Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4588-1.ch002
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The fragmented and scattered nature of the conceptualization of social innovation calls for rigorous attempts to understand the core fundamentality of its elements. This book is underpinned by two overarching research questions: ‘How has the conceptualization of social innovation evolved over time?’ and ‘What patterns of core-meanings and characteristics can be found in the social innovation definitions and various social innovation knowledge clusters?’ A rigorous mixed-method approach employing a sequential research design based on a combination of advanced bibliometric indices and case study analyses is adapted in the development of each chapter in this book. The findings were generated from advanced bibliometric methods of citation, co-citation, and bibliometric coupling. This was supported by networks to visualize these relationships which constitute an ontological analysis and subsequently supported by single case study analysis.



Social innovation is viewed from multiple perspectives. For example, as new governance approaches involving a wider stakeholder community (Vanderhoven, Steiner, Teasdale, and Calo 2020); innovative actions by not-for-profit sector (Desmarchelier, Djellal, and Gallouj 2020); locally developed territorialized actions as opposed to novel progressions originated by large organizations and institutions (Klein 2013); and new forms of collaboration (Ayob, Teasdale, and Fagan 2016; Vanderhoven et al. 2020) aimed at addressing wicked socio-economic challenges. Thus, social innovation spans a wide variety of forms (Desmarchelier et al. 2020) such as a piece of legislation, a procedure, service redistribution mechanism, a product or a service and even an organization. Given this significance, public policy has become a main driver of social innovation (Ayob et al. 2016) giving rise to a growing interest among researchers, policy makers and practitioners interested in social innovation outcomes and resulting outputs.

Despite this diversity and significance, social innovation is recognized as a contested concept (Vanderhoven et al. 2020) with an ambiguous and vague meaning (Grimm, Fox, Baines, and Albertson 2013) and the absence of clarity around relevance and meaning in social sciences and humanities (Pol and Ville 2009). Application of this concept to an array of varied initiatives and organizations ranging from the third sector to the public sector and to the private sector; the lack of detailed discussion associated with actors and the mechanisms of designing and delivering social innovation have seemingly contributed to the immense ambiguity surrounding the social innovation concept (Borzaga and Bodini 2014). Therefore, it is believed that social innovation theory lags behind practice (Nicholls, Simon, and Gabriel 2015) and as a result contributes to being a nascent, emerging (Krlev, Bund, and Mildenberger 2014) and underdeveloped (Cajaiba-Santana 2014) field of study. This may impede the research endeavors of conceptualizing and establishing its socio-economic underpinnings (Grimm et al. 2013) and the legitimization of the field.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Citation Threshold: A citation threshold is the minimum number of citations obtained by ranking papers in a research field in descending order by citation count and then selecting the top fraction or percentage of papers.

Co-Citation Networks: Co-citation networks are a visualization method of highly co-cited and closely associated publications.

Ontology: The approach to conceptualize knowledge in a field of study.

Mixed-Method Research: Mixed-method research approach is a combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches to collect and analyze data in a research.

Co-Citation: Co-citation is a bibliometric indicator defining the frequency of citing two publications (e.g. journal article, book, and book chapter) together which subsequently highlight the similarity of the cited two documents. This citing frequency is determined based on the citations received by a publication.

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