Constructing The Evolution of Social Innovation: Methodological Insights from a Multi-Case Study

Katharine Albertine McGowan, Frances Westley


In this paper, we discuss our methodological challenges we encountered in creating our multi-case volume, The Evolution of Social Innovation.  In applying social innovation to eight different historical periods and problem domains, we needed to justify our choices according to our hypothesis of the crucial role of new social phenomena in sparking transformative change; we also utilized visualization techniques to further our comparison and theoretical explorations, and; embracing the ambiguity of social innovation.   Resolving these methodological challenges confirmed the importance of a research journey that is responsive to the initial question or hypothesis, not limited by conventional, or discipline boundaries, when exploring social innovation

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