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  • Publication
    Accès libre
    Corporate Social Innovation as a Transformative Concept : An Institutionalist Perspective
    There is increasing global urgency to attend to the grand challenges of our time, such as climate change, inequalities, poverty or unemployment. Social innovation has been considered a relevant notion to address these challenges by providing creative solutions from a constellation of multiple actors. Multilateral institutions such as the United Nations (UN) or the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have advocated using social innovation to find new solutions to meet social goals. Moreover, social innovation goes beyond instrumental significance. Recent research has highlighted the transformative character of social innovation as a tool for changing social relations as it is highly related to the context in which it is developed and the actors who implement it. Therefore, the questions of how social innovation unfolds and how it changes society has become key in politics and academia alike. Despite abundant research on social innovation, little has been explored at the corporate level. When observed from the business perspective, social innovation is known as Corporate Social Innovation (CSI), which consists of introducing new products, services, or processes that solve a social problem and improve an organisation’s performance in parallel. Scholars from diverse disciplines have focused on CSI as a concept that allows the private sector to fulfil institutional voids, address social needs and gain competitive advantages, very aligned to status quo organisations and mainstream approaches to social innovation. These studies reflect a dominance of the economic perspective of CSI, while other multidisciplinary studies have emphasised social innovation as a transformative concept that leads to the alteration, replacement or challenge of leading institutions. The dissertation follows this discussion and shall be understood as contributing and continuing these debates. The overall goal of this dissertation is thus to contribute to an understanding of CSI and the process of systemic change. Building on institutional theory, the study draws upon the relevance of context-related institutions, centring on the prominence of CSI, which occurs in a market context in the process of institutional change. CSI is conceptualised as the implementation of new products, services, processes, or practices that change social relations embedded in market structures that alleviate social problems in a particular context while benefiting an organisation’s performance. Thus, an understanding of CSI as a business strategy to change the social context is put forward. Literature on CSI, business model and sustainable development build the basis to analyse systemic change and interpret societal transformation. Empirically, this dissertation is based on a multiple case study of hybrid organisations in Colombia. Hybrid organisations have been considered outstanding actors to provide solutions to the so-called grand challenges while increasingly delivering innovations that benefit society and pursuing systemic changes. Hybrid organisations capacity to address CSI makes it an interesting case study object. The empirical analysis focuses on a particular type of hybrid organisation, Certified B Corporations (B Corps), a label derived business model that aims to balance profits and purpose. The analysis unveils that CSI can reproduce systemic changes from the lenses of hybrid organisations by addressing sustainable development issues — centrally focusing on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Notably, an organisation’s business model is a crucial element to reproduce systemic change, in which CSI is used as a mechanism to provide novel solutions to social problems and change social relations in market contexts. The study offers recommendations for policy-makers to reconfigure and analyse the National Policy for Social Innovation in Colombia and gives suggestions to exploit hybrid organisations capacity to reproduce systemic changes