24th Annual EDiNEB Conference Call for Papers

Contributions from Business and Economics Education to Social Innovation

As we approach this century’s third decade, the complexity of the business environment has come into stark focus with challenges, such as financial and environmental sustainability, now being seen on a global scale. Business and Economics higher education institutions are part of a variety of institutional stakeholders attempting to frame these complex problems and their solutions.  Pettigrew and Starkey’s (2016) call in their special issue of Academy of Management Learning & Education for a reframing of the impact and legitimacy of business schools highlights that these efforts have not been entirely successful.  We teach our students about multi-stakeholder perspectives as an important part framing complex problems and their solutions, yet however elegant in simplicity a stakeholder analysis is, it belies what is actually a set of very complex relations among actors and their wider institutions. It is difficult to make such analyses meaningful to our students and ourselves when the largest level of analysis is indeed the world.

Certainly we infuse our day-to-day educational practices with educational innovation, but these wider societal and institutional goals are more challenging to unpick – for ourselves and our students. By virtue of the role business and management education plays in shaping how our students respond to these challenges, we must, in fact, innovate on a grander scale. In 2013, the European Commission defined social innovation as:

“…the development and implementation of new ideas (products, services and models) to meet social needs and create new social relationships or collaborations. It represents new responses to pressing social demands, which affect the process of social interactions. It is aimed at improving human well-being. Social innovations are innovations that are social in both their ends and their means. They are innovations that are not only good for society but also enhance individuals’ capacity to act” (p. 6).

 Some of us might think that social innovation plays little part in our educational aims and practices, or it may be a discrete and small part of a more general management and economics curriculum. However, we suggest that social innovation is not just one set of innovations or owned by a single group of innovators – social innovation has a much broader remit.  As with the EC’s definition, these are innovations in both ends and means. Therefore, pedagogy, educational design, learning outcomes, partnerships, business models, and Pettigrew and Starkey’s ‘legitimacy and impact’ are all relevant in how we help prepare students for these broader challenges and help them to become innovative and innovators.

The theme of this EDiNEB conference is ‘Contributions from Business and Economics Education to Social Innovation’ with social innovation defined in this very broad sense. We borrow Bessant & Tidd’s (2011) heuristic for thinking about different types of innovation that we use in business and economics education: size (scale), scope, outputs and paradigm.  Although ‘social innovation’ may seem like a category unto itself, it, too, can be characterised in terms of size (scale), scope, paradigm and various resultant outputs.  We welcome papers within the following sub-themes/tracks (click for more information):


Bessant, J and Tidd, J (2011) Innovation and Entrepreneurship (2nd Edition), Chichester, UK, John Wiley & Sons.

European Commission (2013) Guide to Social Innovation [Online], European Commission. Available at http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/docgener/presenta/social_innovation/social_innovation_2013.pdf .

Pettigrew, A and Starkey, K (2016) The legitimacy and impact of Business Schools: Key issues and a research agenda, Academy of Management Learning & Education, published ahead of print, September 27, 2016, DOI: 10.5465/amle.2016.0296.