Detecting Social Innovation Agency; Methodological reflections on units of analysis in dispersed transformation processes

  • Bonno Pel Université Libre de Bruxelles
  • Jens Dorland
  • Julia Wittmayer
  • Michael Soegaard Jorgensen


Considering that it is important for the social innovation research field to confront its methodological challenges, this contribution addresses the challenge of choosing appropriate units of analysis. Invoking insights from actor-network theory, it is demonstrated that this challenge is pervasive: the agency in social innovation processes is distributed and therefore fundamentally difficult to detect and ascribe. This elusiveness becomes particularly pressing in attempts towards systematic comparison of cases. Critically evaluating the three main unit of analysis choices that guided an international comparison of 20 transnational SI networks and their local manifestations, methodological lessons are drawn on the agents that SI can be ascribed to, on the transnational agency through which it spreads and on the relevant transformation contexts involved.



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How to Cite
Pel, B., Dorland, J., Wittmayer, J., & Jorgensen, M. S. (2017). Detecting Social Innovation Agency; Methodological reflections on units of analysis in dispersed transformation processes. European Public & Social Innovation Review, 2(1), 110-126. Retrieved from
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