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Ethics of social innovation

Knut J. Ims (Department of Strategy, Norwegian School of Economics, Bergen, Norway)
Laszlo Zsolnai (Business Ethics Center, Corvinus University of Budapest, Budapest, Hungary)

Society and Business Review

ISSN: 1746-5680

Article publication date: 8 July 2014



The purpose of this paper is to investigate the main reasons for social innovations to be successful in developing countries.


In this paper, four famous cases of social innovation are studied and contrasted in the following dimensions: goals, means and skills/resources needed by the user.


Exemplary social innovations do not have profit as their primary objective but emphasize social, spiritual and humanitarian goals such as minimizing suffering, empowering people and strengthening local communities.


The paper shows that sensitivity to local culture and an ethos for serving the common good are preconditions of successful and lasting social innovations by business.



The authors are listed in alphabetical order. Laszlo Zsolnai’s contribution was developed under his research affiliate contract with the Canon Chair of ESC Rennes Business School. The paper draws on previous work by Ims (2013). The present paper introduces a new ethical perspective, presents the analyzed cases in fresh forms and gives new economic and ethical conclusions.


J. Ims, K. and Zsolnai, L. (2014), "Ethics of social innovation", Society and Business Review, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 186-194.



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