Surmountable Chasms: Networks and Social Innovation for Resilient Systems
Michele-Lee Moore, J. W. McConnell Graduate Fellow, Social Innovation Generation, University of Waterloo
Frances Westley, McConnell Chair, Social Innovation Generation, University of Waterloo
Full Text: HTML
Complex challenges demand complex solutions. By their very nature, these problems are difficult to define and are often the result of rigid social structures that effectively act as “traps”. However, resilience theory and the adaptive cycle can serve as a useful framework for understanding how humans may move beyond these traps and towards the social innovation that is required to address many complex problems. This paper explores the critical question of whether networks help facilitate innovations to bridge the seemingly insurmountable chasms of complex problems to create change across scales, thereby increasing resilience. The argument is made that research has not yet adequately articulated the strategic agency that must be present within the network in order for cross scale interactions to occur. By examining institutional entrepreneurship through case studies and examples, this paper proposes that agency within networks requires specific skills from entrepreneurs, including ones that enable pattern generation, relationship building and brokering, knowledge and resource brokering, and network recharging. Ultimately, this begins to build a more complete understanding of how networks may improve human capacity to respond to complex problems and heighten overall resilience.
agency; complexity; cross scale; network theory; resilience; scale; skill sets; social entrepreneurship; social innovation; social networks