In my recent book, Theories of Social Innovation, I propose different approaches to conceptualizing and understanding social innovation to move beyond futile efforts to agree on a single definition, and make sense of the vast amounts of work occurring under the social innovation banner, as well as generate common language(s) for different organizations involved. In drawing upon management and organizational theories, I suggest three frameworks to explore how social innovation works to create and distribute social value. This includes how it generates new networks and collaborative configurations across individuals, organizations and sectors, and how it also requires us to be conscious of the implicit and different moralities at play when we invoke or operate under the guise of ‘social innovation.’

Social Innovation as Social Value Creation, Capture, and Distribution

A central premise of this chapter is that social innovation is fundamentally about the distribution of value and collective impact to address social problems. In drawing on existing strategic management literature on value creation and capture, recent discussions on value distribution in terms of business’ role in increasing inequality in society, I define and typologize these as follows:

  • Social value creation: as the sourcing of ideas, practices, relations, and models that generate, or have the potential to generate social impact.
  • Social value capture: the organizing of resources and relations to enact, embed, and enable sources to generate social impact.
  • Social value distribution: the sharing of the captured social value, either automatically and directly through value capture mechanisms, or through additional mechanisms to ensure distribution and collective impact.

In conceptualizing social innovation in this way, it identifies the issue of social value distribution as a key mechanism that makes social innovation distinct from traditional approaches to value creation in management, organization, and strategy studies.

Read the full article about theories of social innovation by Daniel Logue at Stanford Social Innovation Review