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Exploring social innovation through co-creation in rural India using action research

Souresh Cornet (Amrita Center for International Programs, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham – Amritapuri Campus, Amritapuri, India)
Saswat Barpanda (Department of Management, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham – Amritapuri Campus, Amritapuri, India)

Social Enterprise Journal

ISSN: 1750-8614

Article publication date: 17 June 2020

Issue publication date: 4 August 2021




Social innovation (SI) has been promoted by policymakers for addressing all kinds of social issues in the context of diminishing government resources. It is, however, difficult to assess the efficiency of SI-based public policies, as the process of SI itself remains largely nebulous. The purpose of this paper is to better understand this process with a focus on its early stage, until the point of identifying a socially innovative idea and in the context of disadvantaged rural communities in India.


Co-creation workshops were facilitated to generate socially innovative solutions in villages, using co-design technique. Following an action research approach, qualitative data was collected to produce case studies.


This study found that SI was appropriate for addressing development challenges in rural India. Facilitated co-creation was successful in involving all citizens and effective in generating SI. The authors developed a framework of generating SI through co-creation that gives a more precise understanding of the SI process.

Practical implications

The authors propose a method for co-creating SI that can be of significant use for practitioners. Findings can help design better and more socially impactful public policies.


This paper focusses on understanding the process of generating SI, using a participatory approach. It is the first work that has been conducted of this sort in the context of Indian rural villages.



This study was conducted as part of the Live-in-Labs(R) program at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham. The authors would like to also acknowledge the two anonymous reviewers whose comments have greatly helped improving the quality of this manuscript.


Cornet, S. and Barpanda, S. (2021), "Exploring social innovation through co-creation in rural India using action research", Social Enterprise Journal, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 240-259.



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