Social R&D in Four Portraits: An Exploratory Study of the Emerging Field of Research and Development in Canada’s Social Purpose Organizations
Keywords:Nonprofit; Social R&D; Research & development; Social innovation; prototyping / Secteur à but non lucratif; R et D sociale; recherche et développement; innovation sociale; prototypage
Since 2015, Canadian practitioners and funders have been adapting research and development (R&D) principles and practices to the context of social purpose organizations (SPOs) to increase the trans-sectoral capacity to generate social innovations. As a result, Social R&D is rapidly gaining popularity among a diversified array of organizations. This article distills the findings of a mix-methods exploratory study and offers a typology of four different Social R&D conceptualizations and practices. An analysis of the literature and of the empirical findings indicates a general lack of shared understanding about what Social R&D entails as a concept or a process. Further precision of meaning is needed to judge of Social R&D’s specific value or to responsibly support its implementation through policy.
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