The dynamics of innovation and social capital in social enterprises: a relational sense-making perspective

Patrick Dawson, Jonathan Scott, John L. Thompson, David Preece

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We develop a relational sense-making framework in order to understand the ways in which knowledge and information, when transferred across social networks, enable or inhibit the innovation process and its sustainability within social enterprises. Our model comprises four main elements: (i) Social capital, (ii) the Innovation, (iii) the Process, and (iv) Adoption and ongoing support (SIPA). Collective understanding through sense-making and sense-giving is fundamental to the successful management and sustainability of innovation projects. The social capital which emerges and develops may incorporate formal and/or informal group(s) linked by particular interests, common goals and/or shared agenda(s). Broadly speaking, the innovation may be directed towards either a problem or an opportunity for the collective. The ‘black box’ process through which different views and interests are presented, interpreted and collective sense-making occurs in the further development and uptake of innovation is by its nature: multifaceted, complex and non-linear. The temporal fragility of certain innovations necessitates ongoing support and acceptance in order to achieve longer-term sustainability. The iterative relations between these elements of social capital, innovation, process and adoption occur within a social, political and economic context in which sense-making and sense-giving of individuals and groups often compete. A key objective of our research is, therefore, to tease out the extent to which and the ways in which social relationships and networks, innovation intentions and technology development are influenced by social capital dynamics within organizations, social enterprises in particular.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Massey University Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Conference
Subtitle of host publicationExtending Theory, Integrating Practice: Massey University, Albany Campus, 1-3 December 2011
EditorsAnne De Bruin, Loren M. Stangl
Place of PublicationAuckland
PublisherMassey University
ISBN (Electronic)9780473203559
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


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