The research group develops and shares knowledge on social innovation processes, learning and competency development, and innovative management styles. The perspective is interdisciplinary and in part draws on psychological, pedagogical, and sociological perspectives, while also drawing on barrier-breaking knowledge which applies to the areas we study.
Fields of research
The research group is both engaged in studying, analysing, and communicating knowledge about social and organisational ideas and formations and in participating in the development of new social and organisational designs related to current challenges in society and within organisations. For example, the group is especially attentive to the potential benefits of transferring and combining designs and forms of organisation from various sectors into new contexts.
Innovation, change management, and entrepreneurship are not only related to economical affairs, but also to a general condition of the knowledge-based network society. The field is related to the breaking up of sectors which has happened in the last 25 years, not only in Denmark, but generally in European societies. Already from around 1970 a number of reform programmes reflected the beginning of a new era in European welfare societies. Since then a new focus has been established on innovation and development of networks within public, private, and voluntary organisations.
A premise for the work of the research group is that today any organisation regardless of sector and location operates with “innovation” as an important aspect of its’ activities. The research group collects and shares knowledge which qualifies partners and recruiters for handling “innovation” and “change”. By doing this we are part of an international trend which is a growing awareness of the fact that precisely the combination of innovation and participation ensures that a society functions well and is competitive on both a local, regional, and global level.
The research group focuses on social innovation, learning, and competency development when analysing how processes of change in the welfare state is related to private life as well as public working life, the social sector, health and prevention, learning and educational institutions, and civil society and voluntary organisations.
Social innovation and social entrepreneurship
Social innovation and social entrepreneurship is perceived as processes of change and social initiatives which seek to address specific kinds of complicated and difficult societal and individual problems in new and (more) efficient ways.
These processes of change and new initiatives are often initiated by ‘change agents’, i.e. persons who, alone or collectively, indentify a problem area, and develop and implement new organisation forms and problem solving. In a number of instances this problem solving consists of establishing new partnerships between public, private, and voluntary agents. This activity may be an indication of a paradigm shift for the welfare state which we are also interested in studying.
The research identifies and analyses what characterizes social innovation and social entrepreneurship, its requisites and contexts, its progress, methods and organisation forms, and the participating agents and their cooperative relationships with other public and private agents. An important objective for the researchers is to examine how – and if – social innovation and social entrepreneurship can be used as a tool in making new solutions to human and societal problems.
Perspectives and approaches in the projects of the research group
Social innovation and social entrepreneurship are terms referring to single forms of appearance and organisation which in a research context have to be reconstructed in existing and new contexts.
Such a reconstruction can take on many forms and is subject to a number of powerful social processes including larger societal, economical, historical, and welfare state dynamics. Furthermore, it must include the subjective and social psychological backgrounds for the actions, views, and life stories of the different agents, and describe the role of organisation, collaboration, and management.
Consequently, the research activities of the group include, in varying degrees, different knowledge fields and traditions: Learning theory, educational sociology, welfare theory, theories of culture, history, and organisation, and theories of subjectivity and modernity a. o. The research on social innovation and social entrepreneurship often make use of three perspectives in a dynamic interplay, and understandings which include these perspectives:
- A societal perspective e.g. focuses on the framework and development of the welfare state, on societal and cultural development, on learning and innovation environments’ paradigms and logics, on civil society and the development and importance of the third sector, on governance, citizenship, and democracy, and on the impact of the categories gender, generation, and ethnicity.
- An organisational perspective includes organisation, culture, and interaction theories in the analysis of how organizations, private and public companies, societies, user groups, and families create and participate in social innovation, learning environments, and inclusion/exclusion.
- An individual perspective focuses on the agents who create and take part in social innovation and social entrepreneurship: volunteers and managers in various voluntary organisations, managers and employees in private and public companies, and the diversity of users and citizens. The roles of these agents are analysed from different perspectives focusing on e.g. competency, life history, or a gender, age, or culture.
Publication: Research - peer-review › Book chapter
Publication: Research › Paper
- In press
Publication: Research - peer-review › Book chapter
Activity: Lecture and oral contribution
Activity: Other research and communication activities › External teaching and subject coordination
Activity: Participation in conference/workshop/course/seminar › Organisation and participation in conference