This study investigates the drivers of social innovation in disability services with specific reference to the context of nonprofit organizations of social farming. In addition, it highlights the role of stakeholder networks in enhancing the social innovation process and the characteristics of stakeholders and networks driving and supporting social innovation.
Following a qualitative methodology, research was conducted through a case study survey with interviews to 13 nonprofit organizations of social farming for people with disability located in the northeast of Italy.
Insights gained from the interviews revealed that individual, organizational and contextual factors drive social innovation in disability nonprofits. In addition, networks play a key role in enhancing the three drivers of social innovation through the social innovation journey, from opportunity recognition to implementation of the innovation, to its consolidation phases. Characteristics of the networks and the stakeholders involved are also outlined.
Practical implications for social entrepreneurs include the need to establish cross-sectoral partnerships with diverse stakeholders, including private companies.
Implications for policy makers stress the need for ongoing support for nonprofit disability organizations. Social implications are not limited to the inclusion of socially weaker groups; rather, the entire community benefits from the social innovation process.
Social farming represents a valuable solution to meet the needs of disadvantaged people. While much research has investigated the topic of social innovation in social entrepreneurship, only a few studies have addressed social innovation in the context of disability nonprofits involved in social farming.
Funding: The research was funded through the following Italian project: “Le nuove frontiere dell'inclusione: sviluppo di una rete locale per un modello di welfare generativo” (FONCOOP R19A42-2019-0000846).
Mion, G., Baratta, R., Bonfanti, A. and Baroni, S. (2022), "Drivers of social innovation in disability services for inclusion: a focus on social farming in nonprofit organizations", The TQM Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/TQM-05-2022-0153
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