Boundary dimensions of social innovation: negotiating conflicts and compatibilities when developing a national agenda

Publisher's full text
Malin Lindberg

In order to add to the existing knowledge on the complex institutional dynamics of negotiating conflicts and compatibilities in innovation processes that address societal challenges and social needs, this article scrutinizes the scientific and societal debate on the theoretical and practical application of “social innovation” by means of the concept “boundary object” linked to institutional theory.

A participatory case study of the development of an R&I agenda for social innovation in Sweden, formulated through dialog between stakeholders from the public, private and non-profit sectors, is presented. The results show that the unpredictable, emergent, evolving and adaptable character of needs, challenges and solutions in social innovation processes is made more theoretically and practically manageable by acknowledging social innovation as a boundary object. This is since this concept, despite its ambiguous character, helps balance complexity and usefulness in a way that serves to expand existing knowledge on institutional dynamics.

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