At the end of last year, Warren and I spent some time trying to deepen our understanding of the relationship between the practice of inscaping and the organizational capacity to initiate and sustain social innovation. Through the generous support of Nesta, we wrote a paper on the topic, which we presented to an international audience of academics and practitioners at Social Frontiers: The Next Edge of Social Innovation Research in London this past November.
Nesta has awesomely made the paper available to the public on-line, along with the 24 other papers presented at the conference. It can be accessed here: Inscaping: Exploring the Connection Between Experiential Surfacing and Social Innovation.
And below is the abstract. We’d love to hear your thoughts/reactions…
In this article we explore the enabling role that experiential surfacing plays in helping to foster the capacity to initiate and sustain social innovation. Building from institutional theory in sociology, we argue that because systemic social patterns are embedded in everyday interactions, an experiential approach to organizing offers rich possibilities for understanding and ultimately transforming deep-seated institutional patterns. We examine the relationship between the practice of experiential surfacing – which we refer to as ‘inscaping’ – and various dimensions of social innovation. We illustrate this relationship with examples of social innovation springing from five organizations: a meals-on-wheels service, a cleaning company, an eco-learning village, a campus sustainability fund, and an urban public school. We discuss a number of specific inscaping dynamics that contribute to social innovation: permeability, synthesis, pattern recognition, disrupting social identity and role boundaries, and empathic growth orientation.