The Landscape of Social Innovation in Canadian Universities: An Empirical Analysis
Keywords:Universities, Higher Education, Social Innovation, Canada
There has been global growth in the number of social innovation initiatives launched in the university sector over the last decade. These initiatives aim to address complex social problems and to promote institutional change. This surge is occurring without a well-developed empirical knowledge base. This article provides a comprehensive description and analysis of the landscape of social innovation initiatives in the Canadian university sector. Findings show that nearly half of Canada’s 96 universities are associated with at least one initiative; many are interdisciplinary and emphasize collaborative problem-solving with sectors outside the university; and government agencies and charitable foundations are the most common funding sources. Findings suggest there is room for growth and for linking and clustering initiatives. The article concludes with directions for future research.
La dernière décennie a été marquée par une croissance mondiale du nombre d’initiatives d’innovation sociale lancées dans le secteur universitaire. Ces initiatives visent à résoudre des problèmes sociaux complexes et à induire des changements institutionnels et systémiques. Cette poussée de l’activité d’innovation sociale se produit sans une base de connaissances empiriques bien développée. Nous y contribuons en fournissant une description et une analyse complètes de toutes les initiatives d’innovation sociale auxquelles participe le secteur universitaire canadien, de leurs caractéristiques et du paysage qu’elles constituent. Résultats notables: près de la moitié des 96 universités canadiennes sont associées à au moins une initiative; de nombreuses initiatives sont interdisciplinaires et mettent l’accent sur la résolution de problèmes en collaboration avec des secteurs extérieurs à l’université; Les agences gouvernementales et les fondations caritatives sont les sources de financement les plus courantes. Les résultats suggèrent: il existe un potentiel de croissance de l’innovation sociale dans le secteur; il y a moins de liens internes et de regroupement d’initiatives que ne le recommande la théorie de l’innovation; l’accent mis sur la collaboration extérieure rejoint la «troisième mission» des universités, qui existe depuis longtemps, mais les innovateurs sociaux ont des objectifs, des méthodes et des processus distincts pour mener à bien cette mission. Nous concluons avec les orientations pour les recherches futures.
Keywords / Mots clés: Universities; Higher education; Social innovation; Community engagement; Service mission; Social change; Canada / Universités; Établissements d’enseignement supérieur; Innovation sociale; Engagement communautaire; Mission de service; Changement social; Canada
Adams, D., & Hess, M. (2010). Social innovation and why it has policy significance. The Economic and Labour Relations Review, 21(2), 139–155.
Amanatidou, E., Gagliardi, D., & Cox, D. (2018). Social engagement: Towards a typology of social innovation [Working paper]. MIOIR/MBS Working paper series. URL: https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/files/66664922 /MIOIRWP82_SI_AmanatidouetalMar2018_1_.pdf [September 25, 2018].
Antadze, N., & Westley, F.R. (2012). Impact metrics for social innovation: Barriers or bridges to radical change? Journal of Social Entrepreneurship, 3(2), 133–150.
Ashoka, U. (2018a). What we do. Ashoka. URL: http://ashokau.org/about/what-we-do/ [September 25, 2018].
Ashoka, U. (2018b). Ashoka Canada: About. Ashoka. URL: https://www.ashoka.org/en/country/canada [September 25, 2018]. Baran, M., Cichocka, E. Kroczak, H., & Maranowski, P. (2016). Analysis of the involvement of higher education institutions from selected Central European countries in the process of creating, implementing and supporting social innovation. URL: https://www.civitas.edu.pl/collegium/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/SOCIAL_INNOVATION _IN-_HIGHER-_EDUCATION_IN_CENTRAL_EUROPE_REPORT_FULL.pdf [November 7, 2018].
Benneworth, P., & Cunha, J. (2015). Universities’ contributions to social innovation: Reflections in theory and practice. European Journal of Innovation Management, 18(4), 508–527.
Bourgon, J. (2011). A new synthesis of public administration: Serving in the 21st century. Montréal, QC, & Kingston, ON: McGill Queens Press.
Boyle, D., Slay, J., & Stephens, L. (2010). Public services inside out: Putting co-production into practice. London, UK: New Economics Foundation.
Bramwell, A., & Wolfe, D.A. (2008). Universities and regional economic development: The entrepreneurial University of Waterloo. Research Policy, 37(8), 1175–1187.
Bubela, T.M., & Caulfield, T. (2010). Role and reality: Technology transfer at Canadian universities. Trends in Biotechnology, 28(9), 447–451.
Cahill, G., & Spitz, K. (2017). Social innovation generation: Fostering a Canadian ecosystem for systems change. SiG. URL: https://www.thesigstory.ca/ [September 25, 2018].
Cai, Y. (2017). From an analytical framework for understanding the innovation process in higher education to an emerging research field of innovations in higher education. Review of Higher Education, 40(4), 585–616.
Cameron, H. (2012). Social entrepreneurs in the social innovation ecosystem. In A. Nicholls & A. Murdock (Eds.), Social innovation: Blurring boundaries to reconfigure markets (pp. 199–220). Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
Christensen, C.M., & Eyring, H.J. (2011). The innovative university: Changing the DNA of higher education from the inside out. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Cunha, J., Benneworth, P., & Oliveira, P. (2015). Social entrepreneurship and social innovation: A conceptual distinction. In L. Farinha, J.M Ferreira, H. Lawton Smith, & S. Bagchi-Sen, (Eds.), Handbook of research on global competitive advantage through innovation and entrepreneurship (pp. 616–639). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
Department of Finance Canada. (2016). Strengthening innovation networks and clusters. Growing the middle class. URL: http://www.budget.gc.ca/2016/docs/plan/budget2016-en.pdf [September 25, 2018].
Doutriaux, J. (1998). Canadian science parks, universities, and regional development. In J. de la Mothe & G. Paquet (Eds.), Local and regional systems of innovation (pp. 303–325). New York, NY: Springer.
Elliott, G. (2013). Character and impact of social innovation in higher education. International Journal of Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning, 5(2), 71–84.
Employment and Social Development Canada. (2018a). Social innovation and social finance. URL: https://www.canada .ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/social-innovation-social-finance.html [September 25, 2018].
Employment and Social Development Canada. (2018b). Biographies of the members of the Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy Co-Creation Steering Group. URL: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development /programs/social-innovation-social-finance/steering-group/member-biographies.html [September 25, 2018].
European Commission. (2016). Social innovation. URL: https://ec.europa.eu/growth/industry/innovation/policy/social _en [July 5, 2016].
Fischer, R.L., & Richter, F. (2017). SROI in the pay for success context: Are they at odds? Evaluation and Program Planning, 64, 105–109.
Geels, F.W. (2004). From sectoral systems of innovation to socio-technical systems: Insights about dynamics and change from sociology and institutional theory. Research Policy, 33(6), 897–920.
Greenwood, R., Raynard, M., Kodeh, F., Micelotta, E., & Lounsbury, M. (2011). Institutional complexity and organizational responses. The Academy of Management Annals, 5(1), 317–371.
Government of British Columbia. (2017). Social innovation. URL: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/employment -business/business/social-innovation [September 25, 2018].
Government of Ontario. (2017). Impact: A social enterprise strategy for Ontario. URL: https://www.ontario.ca/page /impact-social-enterprise-strategy-ontario/ [September 25, 2018].
Hall, B.L. (2009). Higher education, community engagement, and the public good: Building the future of continuing education in Canada. Canadian Journal of University Continuing Education, 35(2), 11–23.
Huddart, S. (2008). New economy of engagement. Open Source Business Resource, 16–21. URL: https://search .proquest.com/docview/1695038766?accountid=14701 [March 6, 2020]
Huddart, S. (2017, April 17). Seven years on and seven years out: Revisiting “patterns, principles and practices in social innovation.” The Philanthropist. URL: https://thephilanthropist.ca/2017/04/seven-years-on-and-seven-years- out-revisiting-patterns-principles-and-practices-in-social-innovation/ [September 25, 2018].
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. (2018). Post-secondary institutions strategic investment fund. URL: https://www.canada.ca/en/innovation-science-economic-development/programs/science-technology- partnerships/investment-fund.html [September 25, 2018].
Jackson, E. (2008, September). The CUE factor: Community-university engagement for social innovation. Technology Innovation Management Review. URL: http://timreview.ca/article/189 [September 25, 2018].
Jongbloed, B., Enders, J., & Salerno, C. (2008). Higher education and its communities: Interconnections, interdependencies and a research agenda. Higher Education, 56(3), 303–324.
Juliani, D.P., Silva, A., Cunha, J., & Benneworth, P. (2017). Universities’ contributions to sustainable development’s social challenge: A case study of a social innovation practice. International Journal of Social Ecology and Sustainable Development, 8(3), 379–399.
Kanani, R. (2016, May 25). Driving social innovation in higher education. Wise Initiative Education Review. URL: http://www.wise-qatar.org/social-innovation-higher-education-marina-kim-rahim-kanani [September 25, 2018].
Kloet, R.R., Hessels, L.K., Zweekhorst, M.B., Broerse, J.E., & de Cock Buning, T. (2013). Understanding constraints in the dynamics of a research programme intended as a niche innovation. Science and Public Policy, 40(2), 206–218.
Kondo, N. (2016). Old problems, new solutions: Measuring the capacity for social innovation across the world [Report]. Economist Intelligence Unit. URL: http://www.eiuperspectives.economist.com/technology-innovation/old-problems -new-solutions-measuring-capacity-social-innovation-across-world-0 [September 25, 2018].
Lorinc, J. (2017, January 23). What are we talking about when we talk about social innovation? The Philanthropist. URL: https://thephilanthropist.ca/2017/01/what-are-we-talking-about-when-we-talk-about-social-innovation/ [September 25, 2018].
Majewski Anderson, M., Domanski, D., & Howaldt, J. (2018). Social innovation: A chance and a challenge for higher education institutions. In J. Howaldt, C. Kaletka, A. Schroder, & M. Zinrgiebl (Eds.), Atlas of social innovation. New Practices for a better Future (pp. 51-53). Dortmund, DE: Sozialforschungsstelle, TU Dortmund University. URL: https://www.socialinnovationatlas.net/fileadmin/PDF/Atlas_of_Social_Innovation.pdf [September 25, 2018].
Marginson, S. (2016). Higher education and the common good. Melbourne, AU: Melbourne University Publishing.
Martin, G., Dale, A., & Stoney, C. (2017). Social innovation labs in Canada: A preliminary analysis of the Canadian social innovation lab landscape. URL: https://changingtheconversation.ca/sites/all/files/Martin_SocialInnovation
Labs.pdf [September 25, 2018]. Matheson, K. (2008, September). How universities can enable social innovation. Technology Innovation Management Review. URL: https://timreview.ca/article/188 [September 25, 2018].
McConnell Foundation. (2016). 12 lessons learned: A visual reflection on a year of learning about philanthropy and social innovation by the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation. URL: http://12lessons.mcconnellfoundation.ca/ [September 25, 2018].
McConnell Foundation. (2017a). The McConnell social innovation fund. URL: http://www.mcconnellfoundation.ca/de/programs/social-innovation-fund [September 25, 2018].
McConnell Foundation. (2017b). Re-Code. URL: https://re-code.ca [September 25, 2018].
McConnell Foundation. (2017c). Building social infrastructure retreat report. URL: https://re-code.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Recode_Social_Infrastructure_Retreat_Report.pdf [September 25, 2018].
McGowan, K., & Westley, F. (2015). At the root of change: The history of social innovation. In A. Nicholls, J. Simon, & M. Gabriel (Eds.), New frontiers in social innovation research (pp. 52–68). London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. Memorial University. (2018). Centre for social enterprise. URL: http://www.mun.ca/socialenterprise/ [April 10 2018]
Milley, P., & Kovinthan, T. (2014). Examining the research base on university co-operative education in light of the neoliberal challenge to liberal education. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 60(2), 377–402.
Milley, P., Szijarto, B., Svensson, K., & Cousins, J.B. (2018). The evaluation of social innovation: A review and integration of the current empirical knowledge base. Evaluation, 24(2), 237–258.
Moore, M.L., & Westley, F.R. (2011). Surmountable chasms: Networks and social innovation for resilient systems. Ecology and Society, 16(1). URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/26268826 [March 6 2020].
Mulgan, G. (2006). The process of social innovation. Innovations, 1(2), 145–162.
Mulgan, G. (2012). The theoretical foundations of social innovation. In A. Nicholls & A. Murdock (Eds.), Social innovation: Blurring boundaries to reconfigure markets (pp. 33–65). Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
Mulgan, G., Tucker, S., Rushanara, A., & Sanders, B. (2007). Social innovation: What it is, why it matters and how it can be accelerated. Oxford, UK: Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, Said Business School, Oxford University. URL: http://youngfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Social-Innovation-what-it-is-why-it -matters-how-it-can-be-accelerated-March-2007.pdf [September 25, 2018].
Murray, R., Caulier-Grice, J., & Mulgan, G. (2010). The open book of social innovation. London, UK: NESTA and The Young Foundation. URL: https://www.nesta.org.uk/report/the-open-book-of-social-innovation/ [September 25, 2018].
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. (2019). NSERC’s college and community innovation program: College and community social innovation fund. URL: http://www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/Professors-Professeurs/RPP -PP/CCSIF-ICC_eng.asp [March 5, 2019].
NESTA. (2008). Social innovation: New approaches to transforming public services. URL: http://www.nesta.org.uk /publications/new-approaches-transforming-public-services [July 5, 2016].
NESTA. (2014). Innovation teams and labs: A practice guide. URL: http://www.nesta.org.uk/publications/innovation -teams-and-labs-practice-guide [July 9, 2016].
Nichols, N., Gaetz, S., & Phipps, D. (2015). Generating social change through community-campus collaboration. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 19(3), 7–32.
Nichols N., Phipps D., Provencal, J., & Hewitt, A. (2013). Knowledge mobilization, collaboration and social innovation: Leveraging investments in higher education. Canadian Journal of Nonprofit and Social Economy Research, 4(1), 25–42.
Nicholls, A., & Murdock, A. (2012). The nature of social innovation. In A. Nicholls & A. Murdock (Eds.), Social innovation: Blurring boundaries to reconfigure markets (pp. 1–30). London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
Patton, M.Q. (2011). Developmental evaluation: Applying complexity concepts to enhance innovation and use. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Pinheiro, R., Wangenge-Ouma, G., Balbachevsky, E., & Cai, Y. (2015). The role of higher education in society and the changing institutionalized features in higher education. In J. Huisman, H. de Boer, & D.D. Dill (Eds.), The Palgrave international handbook of higher education policy and governance (pp. 225–242). London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
Pol, E., & Ville, S. (2009). Social innovation: Buzz word or enduring term? The Journal of Socio-economics, 38(6), 878–885.
Preskill, H., & Beer, T. (2012). Evaluating social innovation. Washington, DC: FSG and the Centre for Evaluation Innovation. URL: http://www.evaluationinnovation.org/sites/default/files/EvaluatingSocialInnovation.pdf [September 25, 2018].
Quarter J., Mook, L., & Armstrong, A. (2009). Understanding the social economy: A Canadian perspective. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press.
Rabadjieva, M., Schröder, A., & Zirngiebl, M. (2017). Towards a typology of social innovation. In J. Howaldt, A. Schröder, A. Butzin, & D. Rehfeld (Eds.), Towards a general theory and typology of social innovation (pp. 98–119). Dortmund, GR: Technische Universität Dortmund. URL: http://www.si-drive.eu/wp-content/uploads/2018/01 /SI-DRIVE-Deliverable-D1_6-Theory-Report-2017-final-20180131.pdf [March 6 2020].
Radius. (2018). Converge: Canadian lab practitioners exchange. URL: https://radiussfu.com/converge-canadian-lab- practitioners-exchange/ [September 25, 2018].
Scaled Purpose Inc. (2015). Where to begin: How social innovation is emerging across Canadian campuses. URL: www.mtroyal.ca/cs/groups/public/documents/pdf/icp_pdf_wheretobegin.pdf [September 25, 2018].
SI-DRIVE. (2014). About SI-DRIVE. URL: https://www.si-drive.eu/?page_id=2 [September 25, 2018].
Smith, A., Voss, J.P., & Grin, J. (2010). Innovation studies and sustainability transitions: The allure of the multi-level perspective and its challenges. Research Policy, 39(4), 435–448.
Social Innovation Canada. (2019). About us. URL: http://www.sicanada.org/ [March 8, 2019].
Social Innovation Exchange. (2018). About us. URL: https://www.socialinnovationexchange.org/about-us [September 25, 2018].
Stauch, J. (2016). Leadership for social innovation: Results of a pan-Canadian study on leadership learning for social change. URL: http://www.mtroyal.ca/nonprofit/InstituteforCommunityProsperity/Research/LeadingCommunity
Change/ssLINK/ICP_report_leadershipforsocial [September 25, 2018].
Strandberg, C. (2017). Maximizing the capacities of advanced education institutions to build social infrastructure for Canadian communities. URL: https://mcconnellfoundation.ca/report/maximizing-the-capacities-of-advanced-education-institutions-to-build-social-infrastructure-for-canadian-communities/ [September 25, 2018].
Svensson, K., Szijarto, B., Milley, P., & Cousins, J.B. (2018). Evaluating social innovations: Implications for evaluation design. American Journal of Evaluation, 39(4), 459–477.
Szijarto, B., Milley, P., Svensson, K., & Cousins, J.B. (2018). On the evaluation of social innovations and social enterprises: Recognizing and integrating two solitudes in the empirical knowledge base. Evaluation and Program Planning, 66, 20–32.
The Young Foundation. (2012). Social innovation overview: A deliverable of the project: “The theoretical, empirical and policy foundations for building social innovation in Europe” (TEPSIE). European Commission – 7th Framework Programme, Brussels: European Commission, DG Research.
TEPSIE. (2014a). Social innovation theory and research: A summary of the findings from TEPSIE. The theoretical, empirical and policy foundations for building social innovation in Europe (TEPSIE). European Commission – 7th Framework Programme. Brussels, BE: European Commission, DG Research. URL: https://cordis.europa.eu/result /rcn/173251_en.html [September 25, 2018].
TEPSIE. (2014b). Building the social innovation ecosystem. The theoretical, empirical and policy foundations for building social innovation in Europe (TEPSIE). European Commission – 7th Framework Programme. Brussels, BE: European Commission, DG Research. URL: www.sigeneration.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/TEPSIE-Graphic.pdf [September 25, 2018].
Universities Canada. (n.d.). Member universities. URL: https://www.univcan.ca/universities/member-universities/ [September 15, 2018].
University of Guelph. (n.d.). Community engaged scholarship institute. URL: https://www.cesinstitute.ca/about-guelph -lab [September 18, 2018].
Vo, A.T., & Christie, C.A. (2018). Where impact measurement meets evaluation: Tensions, challenges, and opportunities. American Journal of Evaluation, 39(3), 383–388.
Vorsteveld, J. (2016). Context and community: A discourse analysis of Canadian post-secondary social innovation and social entrepreneurship initiatives. URL: https://scholars.wlu.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.ca /&httpsredir=1&article=1020&context=brantford_sjce [September 25, 2018].
Wallerstein, N., & Duran, B. (2008). The theoretical, historical and practice roots of CBPR. In N. Wallerstein, B. Duran, J.G. Oetzel, & M. Minkler (Eds.), Community based participatory research for health: Advancing social and health equity (pp. 17–30). San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.
Weerts, D.J., & Sandmann, L.R. (2010). Community engagement and boundary-spanning roles at research universities. The Journal of Higher Education, 81(6), 632–657.
Westley, F. (2013, November 14). The history of social innovation. Keynote speech at NESTA Social Frontiers Conference, London. URL: https://www.nesta.org.uk/sites/default/files/key_note_speech_frances_westley_on_the _history_of_social_innovation.pdf [July 6, 2016].
Westley, F., & Antadze, N. (2010). Making a difference: Strategies for scaling social innovation for greater impact. Innovation Journal, 15(2), 2–19.
Westley, F., & Antadze, N. (2013). When scaling out is not enough: Strategies for system change. Paper presented at NESTA Social Frontiers Conference, London. URL: http://www.transitsocialinnovation.eu/content/original/Book%20 covers/Local%20PDFs/92%20SF%20Antadze%20and%20Westley%20Scaling%20out%20paper%202013.pdf [September, 25, 2018].
Westley, F., Goebey, S., & Robinson, K. (2017). Change lab/design lab for social innovation. Annual Review of Policy Design, 5(1), 1–20.
Westley, F., Zimmerman, B., & Patton, M.Q. (2006). Getting to maybe: How the world was changed. Toronto, ON: Random House.
White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation. (2016). Office of social innovation and civic participation. URL: https://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/sicp [July 4, 2018].
White, S.C., & Glickman, T.S. (2007, Spring). Innovation in higher education: Implications for the future. New Directions for Higher Education, 137, 97–105.
Copyright (c) 2020 Canadian journal of nonprofit and social economy research
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Submission of an original manuscript to the Canadian Journal of Nonprofit and Social Economy Research / Revue canadienne de recherche sur les OSBL et l'économie sociale [thereafter ANSERJ] will be taken to mean that it represents original work not previously published, that it is not being considered elsewhere for publication; that the author is willing to assign copyright to the journal as per a contract that will be sent to the author just prior to publication and, if accepted for publication, it will be published in print and online and it will not be published elsewhere in the same form, for commercial purposes, in any language, without the consent of the publisher.
The journal takes the stance that the publication of scholarly research is meant to disseminate knowledge and, in a not-for-profit regime, benefits neither publisher nor author financially. It sees itself as having an obligation to its authors and to society to make content available online now that the technology allows for such a possibility. In keeping with this principle, the journal will published all of its issues online.
Authors who publish in the ANSERJ agree to release their articles under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Canada Licence. This licence allows anyone to copy and distribute the article for non-commercial purposes provided that appropriate attribution is given. For details of the rights an author grants users of their work, please see the licence summary and the full licence.