Assignment 2: Community Innovation Field Research (2024)

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Key dates

  • assigned: 19.03.2024
  • group presentation and submission: 30.04.2024, 15 pm CET (to be confirmed), during plenary session, download presentation template
  • submission individual assignment: 28.05.2024, at 23:55 CET in the submission area (login required)
  • graded, 30% of course grade

Kick off this assignment with a little inspiration from this case study Kuchentratsch

Task Description

While working on identifying the challenges of your local community, we invite you to do desk research (i.e. use secondary data sources) to find out what others are already doing in this field and which good practices exist. This research is guided by the following questions:

  • What types of social innovation approaches exist and how do they work?
  • Which individuals are behind those initiatives and what motivates them?
  • What could you learn from them?

Social innovation approaches are for example: innovative forms of cooperation between public, private and social sectors, market-oriented approaches such as social businesses, alternative organization models (i.e. cooperatives, benefit corporations, foundations). What all have in common are innovative value propositions that respond to social or environmental needs.

Individual assignment

  • You are asked to individually collect secondary data on a social enterprise or social innovation initiative in your local area and to summarize the information available by filling out the case study template.
  • Write a brief report (ca. 5 pages including images and reference, excluding cover page) in which you summarize the information of your local case. You may concentrate on specific aspects of the case study. Attach supplementary information (e.g. graphical material) if available.
  • For structuring your paper, you may follow the content elements of the case study template.
  • Make sure you include a personal reflective dimension, this is part of the evaluation
  • You need to submit the completed case study template and the 5-pages written report by May 28, 2024, at 23:55 CET
  • Please submit via the submission area on ILIAS

Team assignment

  • You are further asked to reflect on similarities and differences between the social innovation cases in your international team and how far local conditions of the respective countries might be affecting them.
  • Focus on one cross-cutting question in order to compare the social innovation approaches
  • Present your findings in your team on April 30, 2024 at 15 00 CET (time to be confirmed)
  • Use this presentation template
  • Please hand in your file through the submission system on ILIAS on the same day at 23:55 CET.

Identifying Social Innovation Projects

There are several options to identify a social innovation project for your case study:

Selecting Social Innovation Cases

Keep the following characteristics of social innovation in mind for selecting appropriate cases:

  • Explicit social and/or environmental aims. There is a clear social purpose which drives the organisation or the business. This explicit social aim is core to the activities, rather than incidental
  • Explicit and sustainable operator and/or business model. The case needs to be beyond the project/piloting stage. It either runs by generating sustainable income from products or services, or through an innovative constellation/synergy of actors.

In order to select which innovation example you are preparing a case study, you might consider the following aspects:

  • Does the social innovation example address a similar challenge as encountered in my community? (this is not mandatory for the case study, but it might help to learn how other people have approached the specific challenge)
  • Does the social innovation case have a homepage with detailed information?
  • Do you find sufficient information on the case in other secondary data sources (e.g. online publications and directories, journal articles, media in general, company databases)
  • Which innovation example do you personally find most interesting?

Please note: You may contact the team behind you social innovation case directly and ask for additional information to that you found in secondary sources. However, this is not mandatory due to the limited working period.

Analyzing the Data

Use the case study template to summarize the information from secondary data sources. Concentrate on the main aspects. Please note that you may not find (sufficient) information on all aspects asked for in the case study template. Therefore choose your innovation case wisely. In your team, choose one of the following cross-cutting questions to compare your social innovation examples:

  • Do the innovation cases have a clear social vision and mission and how do they communicate those?
  • Which organizational model is applied in order to make the innovation idea sustainable?
  • How and for whom does the organisation measure their social impact?
  • Which strategies do the organisations pursue to cope with current challenges?

Please note: Your team can also agree to use another cross-cutting question that you define within your team (provided that this question can be answered on the basis of the available information)

Discuss similarities and differences of the local cases with respect to the selected cross-cutting question. Reflect on what differentiates the examples and in how far local conditions of the respective countries might be affecting them.