Social Innovation Clusters…in Montreal

Just scanned the June bulletin of ECO-SOC Info and it highlighted an academic article on social innovation that relates to clusters (see last post).  Abstract below (review to follow).

This paper analyses the role of social economy-based local actors in developing social innovation in Montreal. On the basis of a case study in the garment industry, the paper analyses the role played by community economic development corporations in the economic and urban reconversion in the city. The paper has five sections: 1) the problems and the issues facing Montreal’s garment industry; 2) the theoretical concepts used in the analysis, i.e., proximity, social innovation, and governance; 3) a brief introduction of community economic development corporations (CDEC) in Montreal; 4) presentation of a case study in which a CDEC promotes the implementation of a fashion designers’ cluster in a Montreal neighbourhood; 5) the analysis of the specific role played by the CDEC in the development of this cluster. The paper shows that innovation is not the exclusive playing field of high-tech sectors and aims to expand our vision of innovation to include stakeholders who mobilise resources that are not academic but rather the result of institutionally and locally-based learning.

Juan-Luis Klein, Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay, Denis R. Bussieres (2010). Social economy-based local initiatives and social innovation: a Montreal case study. International Journal of Technology Management, 51(1), 121-138.

Social innovation chains and clusters

One of the issues that interests me around social innovation is the relationship between one social innovation and the next. I’m fascinated in how social innovations enable and constrain future solutions. The literature on social innovations tends to track the trajectory of one solution and rarely explores the context from which it emerged and its longer term effects on other initiatives. One notable exception is the work of Mumford (2002) who explored the innovations of Benjamin Franklin. Mumford highlights the cumulative effects that can come from working on novel solutions to social problems. Franklin’s ability to repeatedly innovate seems to come as a result of drawing on elements of past innovations. It’s a sort of “chain” of social innovations. I really like this idea but I have a few problems with it :)

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