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How social capital is leveraged in social innovations under resource constraints?

Punita Bhatt (International Management Practice, Education and Learning Research Centre, Open University Business School, Oxford, UK)
Levent Altinay (Faculty of Business, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 11 November 2013




This paper aims to explore how social capital is leveraged in social innovations to overcome resource constraints. The paper reports on the findings from an exploratory study on the social innovation process within Indian social entrepreneurial ventures (SEVs) developed in a resource constrained environment.


This study adopts an interpretive case study approach to investigating social innovation that enables researchers to identify the cultural contexts within which social entrepreneurship emerges. Views of the social entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs were gathered through semi-structured interviews and observations.


Findings of the study demonstrated that there are distinctive stages of the social innovation process. The stages of the process are initial phase: emergence of a social idea for a venture; development phase: building the social venture; and scaling phase: growing the social venture. These stages of the process lead to the identification of social needs as social entrepreneurial opportunities, then to the initiation, development and scaling of conjectured solutions generating economic and social value.

Practical implications

During the development stage of the social innovation, closer relationships with investors could help access scarce financial resources. Finally, in the scaling phase, greater involvement with the target beneficiaries can help reduce marketing and search-related costs for SEVs. Thus, greater engagement of beneficiaries throughout the social innovation process can help in the successful initiation, development and scaling of a social innovation.


First, this study identifies the distinctive stages of the social innovation process. Second, this study provides empirical evidence to support previous claims that social innovations develop in resource-constrained environments. Finally, this exploratory research has investigated social innovations in a developing country context – India.



The authors would like to acknowledge the constructive comments made by anonymous reviewers of an earlier draft of this article.


Bhatt, P. and Altinay, L. (2013), "How social capital is leveraged in social innovations under resource constraints?", Management Decision, Vol. 51 No. 9, pp. 1772-1792.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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