For the last seven years, scholars working with The Waterloo Institute for Socail Innovation (WISIR) have sought to understand the dynamics of social innovation and its relationship to transformation of complex social-ecological systems. This has included building a conceptual framework for understanding social innovation, building a theory of agency in complex system transformations, understanding the dynamics of scaling out and their relation to scaling up, looking at methodologies for researching complex systems, and doing comparative case studies of contemporary innovations as well as of historical innovations.
Research focus: historical case studies
This research program has produced six case studies of historical social innovations, including the legalization of contraception in Canada, the creation of the world wide web, and the establishment of the national parks system in the United States.
These case studies are being combined to provide new insights into the different trajectories that social innovations take.
Working papers and publications
Westley, F. and K. McGowan. 2013. At the root of change: The history of social innovation. Conference paper presented at Nesta's Social Frontiers: The next edge of social innovations research, November 14-15, London, UK.
Westley, F. and N. Antadze. 2013. When scaling out is not enough: Strategies for system change. Conference paper presented at Nesta's Social Frontiers: The next edge of social innovations research, November 14-15, London, UK.