Gita Surie, Adelphi University
Technological Forecasting and Social Change, August 2017
Abstract: This paper examines how social entrepreneurship, at both the firm and institutional levels, fosters innovation and economic development. It draws on concepts from national innovation systems (NIS), complexity, ecosystems, and social entrepreneurship research to develop a framework for forming innovation ecosystems via social entrepreneurship. The framework is especially relevant for new market creation in renewable energy for rural and bottom of the pyramid (BOP) populations. Case studies from the renewable energy sector in India support the framework. The paper suggests that creating a robust innovation ecosystem requires the following mechanisms at the national level to provide the supporting infrastructure: (1) creation of new institutions; (2) policies to generate demand; (3) institutional support for linkages to build capabilities. Key mechanisms at the micro-level include: (1) facilitating the entry of social entrepreneurs to serve the needs of rural populations; (2) use of new technology platforms to diffuse entrepreneurial skills and enhance community interactions; and (3) establishing linkages with external organizations to enable resource acquisition.