Implementation of Social Innovations in Subsistence Marketplaces: A Facilitated Institutional Change Process Model
Rinivas Venugopal and Madhubalan Viswanathan
Originally published: September 4, 2019 (PDMA JPIM • Vol 36, Issue 6 • November 2019)
Read time: 51 minutes
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Implementation of social innovations in subsistence marketplaces often fails as a result of not bringing about institutional change. In this article, we study the process through which social enterprises facilitate local communities in effecting the process of institutional change as they introduce social innovations. Analyzing rich ethnographic data from 19 social enterprises, we develop the process of “facilitated institutional work” for implementing social innovation. We present a process model for implementing social innovation with four distinct stages involving social enterprises—(1) legitimating themselves within local communities, (2) disrupting aspects of the local institutional environment, (3) helping re‐envision institutional norms or practices, and (4) resourcing the institutional change process. The four stages relate to important concerns that local communities have in working with social enterprises implementing social innovations. These community‐level concerns revolve around the following questions: (1) Why should we allow an external social enterprise to be involved in our affairs? (2) Why do we need to change? (3) What should we change and what should we sustain? and (4) What role should we play in implementing change (such as in mobilizing resources)? This article demonstrates that bringing about institutional change is often necessary for implementing social innovations in subsistence marketplaces. The findings depict a participatory approach in which social enterprises work with local communities to bring about the institutional conditions necessary for implementing social innovation.
- Bringing about institutional change is necessary for implementing social innovations in subsistence marketplaces.
- Institutional change for social innovation is brought about through the interaction between local communities and social enterprises.
- Paternalistic approaches aiming to impose change in a top‐down fashion should be avoided. Romantic approaches that exaggerate the capacity of local communities to effect change should be avoided.
- Local communities in subsistence marketplaces are proactive gatekeepers who can terminate relationships with social enterprises seeking to implement social innovations.
- Social enterprises implementing social innovations must proactively address important concerns that local communities have in working with social enterprises.