National Science Foundation awards grant to professors to explore process of social innovation

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The National Science Foundation awarded a grant to Rutgers Business School professors Jeffrey Robinson and Deborah Dougherty for a proposed conference that will delve deeply into the process of social innovation.

The $47,647 grant will help to fund a two-day workshop scheduled for August 27-28 that will explore how social, behavioral and economic sciences can be used to create new social policy and new social ventures. The project is formally titled, “Bridging the Gap between Policy, Practice and Academia: Unleashing Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Societal Benefit.”

“In technology entrepreneurship, we talk about patents, laboratories and technology transfer, but in the social sciences, we haven’t thought of how to do something similar,” said Robinson, who is director of the New Jersey Social Innovation Institute, which is part of The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at RBS.

The workshop, which will be held at Rutgers Business School’s Newark Campus, is intended to help bring about some new understanding about how to create bridges between the creators of knowledge and the practitioners of social policy and entrepreneurship. The workshop will be open to people from inside and outside Rutgers Business School and the larger university community.

Robinson and Dougherty have identified specific results they want to achieve, including the presentation of a conceptual paper that organizes what has already been written on the process of innovation from the perspective of knowledge transfer and knowledge transformation and what is and is not useful for social innovation.

The workshop is also expected to result in a summary of insights and findings generated in meetings as well as the possibility of research collaborations. The two professors also expect at least three pilot projects or initiatives will be seeded during the two-day event.

"They call it a workshop, so they really want some work to come out of it,” Robinson said.





In a summary included with their grant application, the professors wrote:  “Scholars have acknowledged the challenge of transforming knowledge from (the social, behavioral and economic sciences) into social policy and entrepreneurship, but there is little known about how and under what conditions these transformations take place.”

“The answers to these questions contribute to the field of organization studies and research areas of social policy and entrepreneurship,” the summary stated.

Professor Dougherty, who is considered an expert in the complex ecologies of innovation, is a faculty member in the Department of Management and Global Business. She also serves as chief executive officer and academic director of the Network for Innovation Expertise Development.

Professor Robinson teaches management and entrepreneurship. He is also the founding assistant director of The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development or CUEED as it is known familiarly.

TAGS: Entrepreneurship Faculty Grants Innovation Management and Global Business New Jersey Social Innovation Institute Research Thought Leadership