Interconnected Areas of Research: Collaborations in Social Innovation

Posted: 30 Nov 2018

See all articles by Derya Findik

Derya Findik

Middle East Technical University (METU) - Department of Economics, Students

Date Written: November 3, 2018


Social innovation, as an interdisciplinary field of research, deals with the concept of value creation in the context of societal aspects. According to the conventional definition of innovation in which value creation mostly refers to commercialization, various actors in the value chain, whether vertical (suppliers) or horizontal (customers, competitors), aim at maximizing their own benefits. Social innovation, on the other hand, puts society at the center. Thus, different parties collaborate to find more efficient, effective, and sustainable solutions to social problems. In this study, by using the terms collaboration and social innovation together, we aim at revealing themes in this research field throughout the years between 1970 and 2016. We apply co-citation analysis to find out theoretical foundations of this recently emerged field. Accordingly, we obtain six clusters with different attributes, such as cross-sector partnerships in social innovation, the definition of social innovation, transition studies, social entrepreneurship, innovation studies, and inter-organizational relations. As for the first cluster, cross-sector partnerships are initiated based on the idea of collective action. Therefore, partners from public, private, and non-profit institutions commit their resources to networking in order to find a new solution to a social problem. Studies in the second cluster aim at identifying the field of social innovation. Studies on grassroots innovation in the third cluster include a focus on sustainability of social innovation activities, while the fourth cluster is composed of studies dealing with social innovation in relation to social entrepreneurship. Therefore, they are treated as nested concepts. The fifth cluster includes papers studying social innovation by using the terminology of innovation. The final cluster is themed as inter-organizational relations with specific emphasis on network organizations as strategic alliances, joint ventures, franchises, and research consortia. Based on the results of co-citation analysis, we conclude that studies on collaboration in social innovation are an interconnected area of research except for one cluster, namely transition studies.

Keywords: co-citation, social innovation, collaboration, bibliometric analysis, vosviewer

JEL Classification: L31, O32

Suggested Citation

Findik, Derya, Interconnected Areas of Research: Collaborations in Social Innovation (November 3, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Derya Findik (Contact Author)

Middle East Technical University (METU) - Department of Economics, Students ( email )


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