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Managing social innovation in for-profit organizations: the case of Intesa Sanpaolo

Naiara Altuna (Department of Management Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy)
Anna Maria Contri (Department of Management Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy)
Claudio Dell'Era (Department of Management Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy)
Federico Frattini (Department of Management Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy)
Paolo Maccarrone (Department of Management Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy)

European Journal of Innovation Management

ISSN: 1460-1060

Article publication date: 11 May 2015

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Abstract

Purpose

Social innovations are defined as innovative products or services motivated by the goal of meeting a social need, with the opportunity to create new social relationships or collaborations. Although developing social innovations has been the primary concern of non-profit organizations so far, there are signs of an increasing involvement in this type of innovations of for-profit firms, in an attempt to accomplish their corporate social responsibility strategies. This notwithstanding, there is very limited knowledge on how for-profit organizations can develop a capability to manage social innovation projects. The purpose of this paper is to provide exploratory evidence to fill this gap.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper presents and discusses a case study of a firm that has been involved in social innovation for years. It is Intesa Sanpaolo, a for-profit organization that leads the Italian banking sector.

Findings

The case study points to the existence of three managerial antecedents of a superior ability in social innovation: integrating CSR in its business strategy with a strong commitment from the top management; separating the activities concerned with the development of social innovations from the rest of the organization, following to the structural ambidexterity model; applying the principles of open innovation to the development of social innovations, by involving in particular non-profit organizations as a source of ideas for new social innovation projects and leveraging them to enable adoption of the new products and services.

Originality/value

So far there is very limited knowledge on how for-profit organizations can develop a capability to manage social innovation projects. This paper provides exploratory evidence to fill this gap.

Keywords

Citation

Altuna, N., Contri, A.M., Dell'Era, C., Frattini, F. and Maccarrone, P. (2015), "Managing social innovation in for-profit organizations: the case of Intesa Sanpaolo", European Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. 18 No. 2, pp. 258-280. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJIM-06-2014-0058

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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