According to Schumpeter, economic development occurs through “gales of creative destruction” that lead to the emergence of new economic activities at the expense of obsolete ones. Because economic growth tends to generate social and environmental problems, more recently innovation scholars have used different concepts to explore “destructive creation” processes as well (Soete, 2011). In recent years, there has been a wave of innovations relying on information and communication technologies to address social and environmental problems, which remains under investigated. Those digital social innovations (DSI) have attracted significant public attention and led to the creation of many startups, notably in France as well as in other Western countries. In order to structure this emerging field of research, we produce in this paper a taxonomy of digital social innovations. To do so, we analyse 89 DSI in France with respect to their characteristics, the problems they address, the mechanisms they use, and their potential effects. Using both quantitative and qualitative taxonomy methods, we identify the main DSI clusters in France along three dimensions: the propensity of DSI to diverge from existing socioeconomic systems, their ability to generate and diffuse knowledge, and their capacity to create enduring networks. We also delineate future avenues of research, such as the construction of indicators measuring the social and environmental effects of DSI, the analysis of the practices of DSI users and innovators, or the identification of factors undermining DSI’s contributions to social and environmental progress.
About Cédric Gossart & Müge Ozman
Muge Ozman: Professor at Télécom École de Management (Institut Mines-Télécom), visiting researcher at INGENIO. Her research focuses on the knowledge base of organisations and networks, as well as on digital social innovations ("DSI", cf. INESS Blog). She just published a book titled “Strategic Management of Innovation Networks” (Cambridge University Press).
Cédric Gossart: Associate Professor at Télécom École de Management, visiting researcher at INGENIO. He works on eco-innovation, on the ecological transition of information societies, and on DSI. He is an editor of the journal Terminal (cf. call for papers on DSI).
Cédric Gossart & Müge Ozman
Télécom École de Management
Ciudad Politécnica de la Innovación
Edificio 8E, Acceso J, Planta 4ª (Sala Descubre. Cubo Rojo)
Universitat Politècnica de València | Camino de Vera s/n