Sub-theme 48: Reshaping Society through Social Innovation: Organizational, Community and Institutional Foundations

Damon Golsorkhi
Grenoble Ecole de Management, France
Bernard Leca
Université Paris-Dauphine, France
Jeffrey Sallaz
University of Arizona, USA

Call for Papers

The stubborn persistence of poverty; growing inequality in developed countries; injustice felt by those struggling in emerging economies; chronic unemployment and underemployment in many regions; global climate change and the unsustainable economic practices contributing to it; the issue of how to support an aging population, especially in northern countries; unequal access to healthcare both within and across countries; the monopolization of wealth by a handful of individuals: these are widely considered to be the central social problems of our age. They require not facile solutions, but new ways of posing them as problematics. In particular, the landscape of institutions and actors has evolved in such a way as to upend classic theoretical assumptions concerning the potential and limits of social change.

There are several types of organizational agents, communities and institutional entities (NGOs, social entrepreneurs, corporations, foundations, governments, international institutions, labor confederations, universities, intellectuals, to name the most common) who are certain to be actors in the various social fields wherein debate and action about the problems of the twenty-first century are occurring. Social innovation is one of the ways that these agents could structurally change the backdrop and slow or reverse the trend. We define social innovation as the creation of social practices that bring perspective and positive solutions to chronic or emerging social problems; furthermore, they typically resulting from an integration/combination/reactivation of old, and new practices. Any social innovation requires coordination and collective action through organizations, communities, and institutions.

It is interesting to note that organization studies, despite the organizational and institutional embeddedness of the social innovation field, has neglected to consider this important theme. This lack of considerations explains, among other things, the under-theorization and deficiency of rigorous field investigations (except for the social entrepreneurship domain). Because the foundations on innovation are organizational and institutional, we want in this EGOS track to reflect on the conditions of emergence, implementation, success and failure of social innovation.

Indeed, cases of social innovation are commonly reported. However, these cases give us at best some success stories, but they usually fail to posit the social mechanisms at work behind the stories. We are seeking, precisely, to go behind and beyond the stories in order to understand how social innovations emerge and diffuse. What, we ask, are the organizational and institutional conditions and processes that lead to failure or success in term of positive, neutral and negative impacts? In addition to theorization of social innovation processes and cases, we are especially interested in novel research designs that allow us to grasp this social-based kind of innovation.

Therefore, for this track we are looking for studies that allow us to relate these innovations rigorously, methodologically, and theoretically.


Several themes could be addressed (non-exclusive):

  • Social innovation processes and mechanisms
  • The reasons of success or failure of social innovation
  • Social innovation foundations
  • The diffusion of social innovation, including social movements
  • The specificities of local and global social innovations
  • The modalities of cooperation/conflict between different types of agents during social innovation
  • Social innovation as a form of resistance, empowerment, emancipation and self-advocacy
  • Specific research methodology to explore social innovations
  • Explanatory theories of social innovation
  • Open social innovation

And several fields could be explored (not exhaustive):

  • Wealth-sharing and alternative organizational forms such as cooperatives
  • Practices promoting education for disadvantaged populations
  • New social practices for fighting poverty, inequality and injustice in the emerging and developed countries
  • Social innovations fighting against unemployment
  • Social innovations reducing carbon footprint & promoting sustainable socio-economic practices
  • Social innovations giving access to healthcare for disadvantaged populations
  • Social innovations fighting aging


Damon Golsorkhi is Assistant Professor of Strategy in Grenoble Ecole de Management, France. He is working on power and resistance, strategy-as-practice and social change and innovation. His latest co-edited book (with David Courpasson and Jeffrey Sallaz) is the "Rethinking Power in Organizations, Institutions, and Markets" (Research in the Sociology of Organizations series, Vol. 34, Emerald).
Bernard Leca is Professor in Strategy, Organization Theory and Control at University of Paris-Dauphine, France. His works have appeared in 'Organization', 'Organization Studies', 'Annals of the Academy of Management', the 'Revue Française de Gestion' and related management publications. His main research focuses on the impact of organizations and markets on society and government and the way organizations or individuals can initiate and implement institutional change.
Jeffrey Sallaz is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Arizona, USA. His interests lie at the crossroads of the sociology of work, economic sociology, political sociology, deviance, and social theory. His work has been published in the 'American Journal of Sociology', 'American Sociological Review', 'Annual Review of Sociology', 'Ethnography', 'Social Problems', 'Theory & Society' and 'Work and Occupations', among others.