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Developing the Transformative Capacity of Social Innovation through Learning: A Conceptual Framework and Research Agenda for the Roles of Network Leadership

1
International Center for Integrated Assessment and Sustainable Development, Maastricht University, 6211 KR Maastricht, The Netherlands
2
Faculty of Management, Science & Technology, Open University, 6419 AT Heerlen, The Netherlands
3
United Nations University—Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT), United Nations University, 6211 AX Maastricht, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2019, 11(5), 1304; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11051304
Received: 30 September 2018 / Revised: 6 February 2019 / Accepted: 18 February 2019 / Published: 1 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Leading Sustainability Transitions)
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Abstract

Learning processes play a crucial role in the development of the transformative capacity of social innovation actors. This article builds on the recently developed Transformative Social Innovation (TSI) theory to propose a conceptual framework and research agenda for understanding and investigating the roles and limits of network leadership in supporting learning processes that serve to develop the transformative capacity of social innovation. This focus on network leadership is underdeveloped so far in TSI theory. Addressing this research gap also serves to increase the practical relevance of TSI theory to practitioners engaged in network leadership. After presenting a synopsis of TSI theory, we present an overview of the elements of the conceptual framework, which are successively specified throughout the article. First, transformative change is conceptualized, involving three institutional dimensions: depth, width and length. Based on this, a definition of transformative capacity is proposed that addresses change across these three dimensions. We then describe how various types of learning processes can contribute to the development of transformative capacity. Next, we outline the roles of network leadership in supporting these learning processes across various network levels. We conclude with a research agenda for empirically investigating these roles of network leaders as agents for advancing transformative changes for sustainability. View Full-Text
Keywords: transformative social innovation; learning; networks; network leadership transformative social innovation; learning; networks; network leadership
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Strasser, T.; de Kraker, J.; Kemp, R. Developing the Transformative Capacity of Social Innovation through Learning: A Conceptual Framework and Research Agenda for the Roles of Network Leadership. Sustainability 2019, 11, 1304.

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