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BUU44620 Social Innovation and Social Impact

(20 ECTS credits incorporating a significant piece of independent research)

Lecturer(s)

Professor Mary Lee Rhodes and Professor Gemma Donnelly Cox

Module Content

Social innovation is the process of developing and implementing effective solutions to social and environmental issues.  If you are interested in thinking differently and making a difference, whether your focus is climate action, or marriage equality, you are interested in social innovation. This module introduces concepts for and approaches to social innovation and value creation, linking social innovation theory, business practices learned throughout the business degree and new strategies for defining, delivering and measuring social impact.  Students will learn about global and regional approaches to social innovation, how to develop a theory of change and use logic models, and how to intervene in a process of social innovation.  The first stage of the SISI group project and the first independent research assignment will be completed in the first semester and these will be developed in the second, linked module, “Delivering Social Impact”.

Building on the new concepts and approaches to social innovation and value creation introduced to students in Semester 1: “Designing Social Innovation”, the second semester “Delivering Social Impact” links social innovation theory, business practices and new strategies for defining, delivering and measuring social impact.  Students will learn about global and regional approaches to defining, delivering and measuring impact, how to apply different theories of change to social innovation initiatives, what impact investing is and how to tap into different sources of social finance.  The SISI group project (begun in the preceding module) will be developed further to enable students to apply their knowledge to a practical example of social innovation and to reflect on their own role in generating impact.  The independent research project defined in the first semester will be completed in this semester alongside the group project.

Learning and Teaching Approach:

This module has two main elements: ‘content’ and ‘skills’.  The ‘content’ element is achieved through the Social Innovation and Social Impact lectures, seminars and group assignment that span two semesters.  The core learning activity is the application of knowledge to the practice of delivering social impact through working with existing or proposed social innovation projects and organisations via the ‘Social Innovation and Social Impact” (SISI) project.  Students will work in teams with social innovators and/or organisations to propose specific initiatives aimed at increasing the social (and/or environmental) impact of their work.  Lectures will introduce students to the core ideas and approaches underpinning social innovation, impact and finance and students will be given the opportunity to discuss and debate different SISI strategies that might apply to their project (or not).  Seminars will be held on a bi-weekly basis and will be structured as workshop time for students to develop, present and receive/provide feedback on their evolving projects.

The ‘skills’ element of the module are achieved through the independent research seminars and assignments that are designed to train students in social science research, with an emphasis on the management disciplines. This element of the module enables students to pursue their own SISI-related research interest, while learning relevant research skills such as systematic literature review, research proposal writing, methodology, data analysis, etc.  Students will produce two pieces of independent research: a systematic literature review and a research project relating to topics in Social Innovation, Social Impact and/or the SISI project in which they participate.

In addition to the project and research work, students will be asked to reflect on their own and other groups’ learning and engagement with the core ideas of the module and practical implications of these for the selected social innovations. 

Learning Outcomes

SISI Content
Having completed the course, you should be able to:

  • Remember, understand and apply the key theories / frameworks / debates in the field of social innovation and its role in bringing about social change
  • Analyse the hybrid models of organization and finance that are emerging as boundaries between private, public and nonprofit sectors blur, and evaluate the role of structure in enabling social innovation
  • Evaluate a social innovation in an Irish / international context with respect to the potential for sustainable impact and systemic change
  • Design practical interventions in a socially innovative organization, in collaboration with organizational personnel and project mentors
  • Understand social entrepreneurship, philanthropy and civic engagement strategically, with a view to maximizing impact and bringing about systemic change;
  • Apply principles of social innovation to problem solving, analysis and social impact evaluation;
  • Demonstrate the capacity to understand, address and assess social challenges locally and globally.

Research Skills

  • Design and execute a systematic literature review
  • Develop a research proposal

Module Pre Requisite

Pre-Requisites: BUU33590 Business in Society (JS Year) or Buu33690 Social
Entrepreneurship (JS Year) or equivalent

Recommended Texts/Key Reading

Required core course textbook(s):

    • Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. (2015) Research Methods for Business Students, 7th Edition, Harlow, England, UK: Financial Times/Prentice Hall. ISBN13:9781292016627
    • Jesson, J.K, Matheson, L., Lacey, F.M (2011) Doing Your Literature Review: Traditional and Systematic Techniques, London, UK: Sage Publications. ISBN 978-1-84860-153-6
    • See Social Innovation texts for BUU44621

General Supplemental Readings:   There are a range of readings drawn from relevant academic and ‘grey’ literature which will be provided to students via the Blackboard site.  Indicative reading for each SISI lecture topic are provided in the relevant module schedules under BUU44621 and BUU44622. 

Assessment

SISI Group Project – (50%)
- Phase I: “Social Innovation Process, Theory of Change, Intervention” due at the end of Semester 1
- Phase II: Final Recommendations” due at the end of Semester 2

Independent Research (50%)
- Research Proposal (not graded) due end of week 7 in Semester 1.
- Systematic Literature Review due at the end of Semester 1