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Game-changers and transformative social innovation

Flor Avelino, DRIFT, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Julia M. Wittmayer, DRIFT, Erasmus University Rotterdam
René Kemp, ICIS, Maastricht University
Alex Haxeltine, University of East Anglia


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This editorial introduces the special feature on the role of game-changers, broadly conceptualized as macro-trends that change the “rules of the game,” in processes of transformative social innovation. First, the key concepts are introduced together with the academic workshop that brought together 25 scholars, from across a wide range of disciplines, to discuss the role of game-changers in transformative social innovation, resulting in the 9 contributions in this special feature. Second, the differing conceptualizations of the role of game-changers in transformative social innovation across the set of articles are discussed. Third, an overview is provided of the different empirical examples of game-changers and transformative social innovations addressed; examples were drawn from different geographical contexts across Europe, North America, South America, Africa, and Asia. Fourth, the differing epistemological approaches used to explain social change are noted, and lessons for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research on social change discussed. Finally, a synthesis is provided of the main insights and contributions to the literature.

Key words

game changer; sustainability transitions; transformative change; (transformative) social innovation

Copyright © 2017 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087