Resources, Limitations, and Capacities of Social Innovation

منابع، محدودیت‌ها و توانایی‌های نوآوری اجتماعی

If social innovations are to succeed, they need sufficient resources, they must deal with a whole set of constraints, and they must have the capabilities to manage these resources and constraints. For social innovators, using and accessing these resources is quite different from technology and business innovators. A clear understanding of these differences can guide social innovators in developing better strategies for managing resources and developing capabilities that ultimately lead to social change.

Resources and constraints are best managed as interrelated issues. Having a lack of resources for social innovation is clearly an important constraint. Many social innovators are personally motivated and motivated by social challenges or local or individual demands. Therefore, the first and most important resource is undoubtedly human resources, that is, cooperation and collaboration between people. Successful social innovations represent the actions of internally motivated individuals, peers or networks of individuals who succeed in attracting the support of important audiences such as civil society, volunteers, professionals and concerned individuals from various sectors including political agents. Finances are another critical and relevant resource that largely determines the survival and development of a social innovation initiative. Social innovations lack public and market access to their financial resources. The difference with technological and business innovations is that social innovations usually focus on creating social value and rarely have strong economic business cases to sustain them. And without adequate financial support, they often disappear after a while. Laws and regulations (whether regional, cultural or governmental) can initiate and support social innovation, but can often be seen as a constraint. These laws and regulations vary between different policy areas and different regions of the world. Social innovators must overcome these obstacles, and they are not always fully equipped to do so. There is no national or international body to monitor the aggressive competition in the field of social innovations.

This brings us to the third term. Ability can be defined at the individual level as well as at the organizational level. People may have abilities to achieve new goals.

In discussing the capabilities of social innovations, we mainly focus on organizational level capabilities; That is, the ability of a business to organize related processes and resources and achieve desirable innovation goals. According to Hegemanolis, some of the macro-innovation capabilities include technical capabilities, such as the ability to generate ideas and develop them into products. Other skills include marketing and service skills, legal skills to protect intellectual property, the ability to network and form alliances and expand boundaries between companies. According to Lawson and Samson – in addition to the basic vision and strategy of an innovation – competencies, culture and new technologies are sources of innovation capabilities that are closely related to the SI-DRIVE philosophy.

What lessons can be learned from the practical experiences of social innovations?
According to the experimental results of SI-DRIVE, there is a need for specific human and financial resources as well as organizational capabilities to overcome a large list of limitations.

Human resources: intrinsically motivated people, leadership style and mutual learning
Social innovations require dynamic and motivated people. These people are needed not only to invent, but also to advance innovation. They do not need to have the same knowledge as scientific experts in technological innovations. These “human resources” can come from anywhere and have any type of problem-solving expertise. However, for the development of social innovations, there is a need for specific and diverse capabilities (management) of social innovators. Most of the social innovations that fail are due to the lack of basic abilities of the promoters and their main agents.

The leadership style of social innovators must be appropriate. Small start-ups and social innovations are significantly dependent on engaging leadership and on such innovators who care enough about the challenge at hand and are likely to be sufficiently connected to the relevant environment.

Mutual learning, capacity building and empowerment are very relevant to further develop these initiatives and achieve sustainability. Most mutual learning occurs at the individual level of the people involved and may relate to the target people of a solution. Social learning occurs from society agents and system actors through identification, absorption and implementation of new information and knowledge. However, empowerment is often self-initiated and associated with “developmental path dependencies”—because past experiences inform future performance. Capacity building (also for public institutions and system representatives) and empowerment creates win-win situations for producers and users. Capacity building intermediary organizations and institutions are being developed, with the aim of equipping initiatives with the right skills, capabilities and even resources to succeed.

Compared to the extensive role of science in technological innovations, the lesser role of university development in social innovations should be emphasized. Universities can and should be much more involved in supporting social innovation through the provision and exchange of knowledge, evaluation, new ideas, intervention in the process, support for social innovation, technological solutions and others.

Financial resources: Social innovations need diversified and diverse resources
Social innovators are undoubtedly in a complicated position in the field of resource provision. Often here we are talking about private citizens or individual representatives of organizations launching a limited local initiative. This always means that they rely primarily on their own resources. But more resources are necessary and available for social innovators. The various financial roles that act as support for social innovation initiatives are fulfilled through internal sourcing of initiatives (own and partner contributions) and supplemented by (national, regional and European) public funding. Civil society (foundations, philanthropic capital, international and individual donors and supporters) is also an important source of funding. Social innovators sometimes rely on profits from the sale of their products or services, participant fees, and fundraising. This means that social innovators depend on a wide and very diverse mix of funding sources. They don’t just do it for fun or as a strategic diversion; Rather, they have no choice and must combine resources to help their initiative survive.

This diverse situation in providing resources also leads to the use of diverse and specific business models. Because commercial competition with other social innovations is not in the minds of most initiatives, there are different and clear attempts to survive, for example with the help of concepts such as social enterprise, corporate social responsibility programs or actions, hybrid revenue models (supported by sales, costs and etc.), licensing models, fee-funded tax associations, small businesses (market competition).

Organizational capabilities
Social innovators are mainly influenced by social challenges and local social demands. This issue is clear when talking about general societal challenges such as climate and demographic changes, community dissatisfaction with systems, ineffective measures and regulations, deficiencies and system failures. Social innovations want to solve these challenges. Local demands such as preventing social isolation, work and educational needs, reducing inconsistencies and creating new and innovative social solutions lead to new social solutions. These demands encourage people with disabilities from different sectors to take personal responsibility and/or their citizenship. Social innovations are influenced by a sense of urgency and are encouraged by social needs and demands to seek new and innovative social solutions that have not yet been covered by the formal system. To deal with these drivers, the following organizational capabilities must be available for social innovators:

– Social innovations should be embedded in environments that can be connected to important institutions. New governance systems or enabling environments for innovation need to be provided by an open government that encourages experimentation.

– Social innovators should be able to use and benefit from the possibilities of new technology.

– Social innovators must understand the role of complementary innovations. While complementary innovations in some policy and operational areas are related to the nature of technology, others are related to new business models that make social innovations more sustainable.

– Coping with social system settings is this ability that is easily ignored. Selection, adoption, diffusion and imitation, and social change depend more on dependence on the (formal) system in which the initiatives are embedded.

Dealing with limitations
There is a diverse role of constraints for the development of social innovation, mainly focused on the initiative itself: lack of financial resources, lack of human resources, lack of knowledge. Although a combination of financial resources and provision of very diverse resources are needed and not the main resources, this is the main challenge for social innovations. Considering that empowerment, human resources and knowledge are major societal issues that are vertical cuts for social innovation initiatives, lack of human resources and lack of knowledge are also important related barriers. Although legal constraints and lack of policy support are generally not a focus, in-depth case studies show that they are critical to development and institutionalization.

Future approach
Our analysis shows that social innovations have similar but different and challenging characteristics than technological and economic innovations. Social innovations require significant human resources that unlock the potential of society to reach specific solutions. They have different sources of funding and face drivers and barriers that are often interrelated. They often move based on social challenges and local demands and often require people in power, who are weak in terms of human and management and need adequate financial resources and political and policy support.

What does this mean for scaling up and institutionalizing social innovation?
Social innovators must develop a wide range of strategies to capture needed resources and develop related capabilities. Our results show that the high capacity of innovation and the high capability of society for diverse and wide financial and human resources are social innovation initiatives in the implementation and impact stage. Integrating pandemic partners from all sectors of society to create an ecosystem related to innovation, diverse sources of funding, diverse knowledge of partners, extensive involvement of users and beneficiaries, and a large number of volunteers can serve as excellent existing foundations for further development towards a continuous institutionalization of initiatives. be considered for expansion and dissemination. Also, existing initiatives of this type can become an inspiring movement, which achieves advocacy and successful applications and changes and develops solutions to society’s challenges and other social demands. The required resources and capabilities and the appearing limitations are also different in different stages of the process of social innovations (such as idea, invention, implementation, institutionalization and expansion). They change over time and are assigned in different ways in specific development stages of social innovations.

What effect does this issue have on supporting social innovators?
There is a need for an environment for social innovation and new governing structures to support innovators. Especially compared to infrastructures and support structures for technological development, such as national innovation systems, it is clear that the means for social innovation must be improved. In the case of financing, for example, it is important to take advantage of new technologies and develop sustainable business plans. Social innovators in ideation need initial funding. Local innovation labs are useful for social innovation to provide start-up startups. In the expansion and institutionalization stage, social innovations will require additional financial resources in addition to participant costs and contributions. Of course, social innovations can benefit from having a stronger “business” and more managerial capabilities.

A specific environment is needed that is conducive to social innovation (which supports social innovation ecosystems with the participation of civil society, economy, politics and science). However, it should be distinguished from other innovations (technological or economic) because of the need to unlock and use the potential of the whole society.

Universities and research centers should become important drivers for social innovation. Only about half of social innovations are supported by external experts. Science and research – and this is different from technological innovation – do not play an important role as a driver or a driver (this is confirmed by a small number of universities and research institutes as partners in initiatives).

The innovative environment – provided and supported by (new) governing structures and policies – requires a basic supportive environment (which provides the right “space” for experimental innovations), especially in policy contexts with a high level of regulation by formal systems. (e.g. education, employment, health) New governmental structures are needed to provide new opportunities for experimentation. This can be done by an “open government” that is itself embedded in a wider open governance system that encompasses all elements of society. In this context, the public sector should adapt its role and relationships with other factors.

Resources, constraints and capabilities are as diverse as social innovations. They are at different stages of innovation development. Human resources, knowledge and empowerment are continuously developed by the mutual learning of all actors involved in the process of social innovation, which leads to the construction of new capabilities. Empowerment is an important outcome and a driver, which is promoted not only to the beneficiaries and innovators but also to social agents including (parts of local communities). Lack of human resources is one of the main obstacles to scaling up, and all social innovators face funding constraints and must tap into various sources. The main dynamics are (local) social demands and community challenges as well as individuals/groups/networks; But the main obstacles include the search for financial resources, lack of support mechanisms (policy), lack of human resources and skills (management).

However, in order to unlock the potential of social innovations for the whole society, it is necessary to establish an enabling environment for social innovation with new governing structures: supporting relevant and appropriate resources that correspond to the different stages of the innovation process, enabling new (organizational) capabilities and overcoming Encourage the limitations and obstacles related to the process and system.

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