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Developing radically new meanings through the collaboration with radical circles: Slow Food as a platform for envisioning innovative meanings

Naiara Altuna (Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy)
Claudio Dell’Era (Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy)
Paolo Landoni (Department of Management and Production Engineering, Politecnico di Torino, Torino, Italy)
Roberto Verganti (Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy)

European Journal of Innovation Management

ISSN: 1460-1060

Article publication date: 8 May 2017

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Abstract

Purpose

The importance and complexity of proposing radically new meanings are well-established in the literature. However, a limited number of contributions have analyzed how they can be developed. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the development of radically new meanings at the basis of the Slow Food movement to contribute to the topic.

Design/methodology/approach

In order to better understand how social movements can propose radically new meanings and how companies can take inspiration and build a competitive advantage by leveraging the proposed meanings, the authors deeply analyzed the genealogy of Slow Food, interpreted as an inspiring case study; the authors adopt a narrative approach.

Findings

The analysis of how Slow Food emerged and evolved into an international movement reveals an alternative way to develop innovative meanings in collaboration with groups of radicals. The authors identify three main phases in the evolution of innovative meanings: generation, institutionalization and development.

Practical implications

In terms of managerial implications the authors contribute highlighting the importance of a new type of collaborative innovation: the collaboration with radical circles and social movements in their early stage.

Social implications

From a societal point of view, if the authors acknowledge the importance of social movements in contesting and actively changing institutions, the authors can see the importance for policy makers to create loci and opportunities for the emergence of radical circles and their experimentations.

Originality/value

The authors propose that new meanings are frequently the result of small groups of individuals gathering in radical circles. The core attribute of such circles is group validation. The group supports the Slow Food leader in refining the meaning and confronting the dominant paradigm.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge all of the practitioners who collaborated with us during the in-field data-gathering process. Any mistakes or omissions are the sole responsibility of the authors. Financial support from the Lombardy Region fund Dote Ricercatori e della Dote Ricerca Applicata per lo sviluppo del capitale umano nel sistema universitario lombardo is also gratefully acknowledged.

Citation

Altuna, N., Dell’Era, C., Landoni, P. and Verganti, R. (2017), "Developing radically new meanings through the collaboration with radical circles: Slow Food as a platform for envisioning innovative meanings", European Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. 20 No. 2, pp. 269-290. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJIM-06-2015-0045

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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