My research project
Social innovation process: tracing the development of new solutions targeted at the base of the pyramid
The research investigates how social innovations (SI) are developed. The research on innovation has focused on the development of products and services with a market focus in order to achieve competitiveness and profitability. Consequently, traditional models of innovation represent long and costly projects by research and development departments. SI as a process remains little explored even in social entrepreneurship studies, which typically focus on isolated phases (e.g. ideation or scaling). Therefore, the research aims to uncover the whole SI process from ideation to adoption. We define SI as the development and implementation of new ideas (products, services, processes, methods), which the main purpose is to meet the needs of people at the bottom of the pyramid in order to improve their quality of life and to direct the financial goals for organization sustaining and innovation scaling. Since SI are primarily socially motivated, we assume they are distinct from traditional innovations.
We will adopt a processual research method and process tracing techniques to understand the causality relation between events found from evidence raised in the multiple cases studied using several sources - reports, documents in audio-visual formats, websites, interviews with founders and managers related to the innovations. Tracing the events contributes to knowledge building because it works as a reference for organizations and innovators to develop new other ideas. Besides, the study aggregates the literature related to social entrepreneurship and innovation management, as it examines integratively the process of a type of innovation aimed firstly at social objectives. The research also proposes a SI definition to be used in future research.