Journal of Product Innovation Management (JPIM)

Call for Papers

Special Issue: Social Innovation in an Interconnected World

Guest Editors

Dr. Ruby P. Lee, Florida State University, USA (rlee3)

Dr. Jelena Spanjol, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany (spanjol)

Dr. Sunny Li Sun, University of Massachusetts-Lowell, USA (li_sun)

Dr. Bo Zou, Harbin Institute of Technology, China (zoubo)

Motivation for the Special Issue

Over the past two decades, social innovations have dramatically changed the landscape of worldwide societal challenges such as social inequality, poverty, pollution, energy provision, unemployment, and healthcare. Defined as a way to offer novel solutions that can more effectively and efficiently solve social problems and needs, social innovations like Microfinance and Fairtrade labels have become the main engine of inclusive growth and social change (Cajaiba-Santana, 2014; Phills, Deiglmeier, and Miller, 2008). Comparing innovation capabilities and outputs, ‘The Global Innovation Index 2015’ reported that eight economies (China, India, Jordan, Kenya, the Republic of Moldova, Mongolia, Malaysia, and Vietnam) demonstrated the most persistent innovation performance over the last few years (Dutta, Lanvin, and Wunsch-Vincent, 2015). A hallmark of the innovation efforts in these economies is the objective to create value to society and solve social problems, particularly those aimed at the bottom-of-the-pyramid (BoP) (Prahalad, 2004; Varadarajan 2014).

In addition, different parts of the world have become more interconnected, thanks to the advancement of information technology. A growing number of firms have shifted their primary motivation to engage in emerging markets from being purely economic to environmental and social. Start-up and large firms have begun to consider not only offering new products and services (e.g., microfinance) to the BoP at extremely low prices, but also increasing their emphases on “doing well while doing good” to the society (Sun and Im, 2015; Varadarajan 2014). The mission statement of Bandhan Bank ( in India, for example, states: “It is a bank for all but the focus remains unchanged to meet the financial needs of people who are overlooked by the formal banking system and create better education, health care and self-employment opportunities.” Similarly, Centera in Mexico promotes social value and human value: “We grow to offer inclusion opportunities to the largest number of people in the shortest time possible, sharing these benefits with the communities where we operate…We trust people and their ability to grow, improve and fulfill their goals.” In developed countries, TOMS Shoes initiated the “buy-one-give- one” business model — helping “a person in need” with every purchase – and inspired many empathetic followers (Marquis and Park, 2014).

In part because the social innovation literature is still “fragmented, disconnected, and scattered among different fields” (Cajaiba-Santana, 2014:42-43), we believe that it is time to revisit existing theories in innovation, entrepreneurship, public policy and other domains to account for various new phenomena relating to social innovation. Given the evolving nature of innovation and the shifting focus of innovation from developed economies to emerging economies (Lee, Ozsomer, and Zhou 2015; Subramaniam, Ernst, and Dubiel 2015), the purpose of this special issue is to address a pressing need to understand social innovation in an interconnected world, specifically its role in emerging economies. Theoretically, it is also important to clarify the notion of social innovation and examine whether or not and how it is different from frugal innovation (Radjou and Prabhu, 2015), inclusive innovation (Sun and Im, 2015), responsible innovation (Stilgoe, Owen, and Macnaghten 2013), and sustainable innovation (Varadarajan, 2017), among others.

Specific Focus of the Special Issue

Given the multidisciplinary nature of social innovation and entrepreneurship research, we invite manuscripts that are from various scholarly domains including, but not limited to economics, finance, international business, marketing, organizational behavior, psychology, sociology, and strategy, to name a few. We encourage manuscripts that go across markets and industries, and take a global perspective. We further welcome diversified methods (qualitative or quantitative or mixed), including comparative history analysis and case study to enrich our understanding of social innovation in the interconnected world.

Suggested topics and research questions

(1) Social Innovators –

a. What are the motivations or inspirations driving social innovators?

b. How do entrepreneurs or innovators think about the social aspect of product innovation?

c. What are the motivations for firms from developed economies to apply social innovation in emerging economies?

d. What are the social innovation relationships or governance structures among different stakeholders (e.g., governments, NGOs, foreign/global funds, suppliers, customers)?

e. How do social innovators overcome the resource constraint and institutional barriers?

(2) Social Innovations –

a. What concept(s) or theory(ies) are needed to explain social innovation?

b. How is social innovation different from inclusive innovations, responsible innovations, frugal innovations, sustainable innovation, etc.?

c. What processes and mechanisms can be employed for social innovation?

d. What are different strategy, marketing, sales, or supply chains in social innovation?

(3) Social Innovation Context –

a. What does the ecosystem and infrastructure for social innovation look like?

b. What are social innovation’s environmental, social, and economic impacts, and are those impacts constructive or destructive?

c. How do social innovators interact with their ecosystems?

d. How do new technologies, social networks, and institutional environments affect social innovators and their new breeds of innovations?

e. How do B-corp equity, crowdfunding, impactor investment or new funding sources support social innovation?

(4) Social Impacts –

a. How do we measure the performance and impacts of social innovation?

b. How do players other than end users in the market such as international agencies (e.g., United Nations), local governments, NGOs, benefit from social innovations?

c. Is there any cost of social innovation? How do we balance the cost and benefits of social innovation?

(5) Interconnected, Global Aspects to Social Innovation –

a. How do social innovators work across market and industry boundaries?

b. How do social innovations cross market boundaries?

c. How do the different social innovation contexts across the globe enhance or challenge social innovation efforts?

d. How can the social impact be measured across market boundaries and on a global scale? Do costs and benefits accrue differentially across markets of a social innovation?

Review Process Timeline

Call for papers announcement: February 10, 2017

Submission due date: December 17, 2017 (extended deadline)

First round decisions: March 1, 2018

Special issue conference and paper development workshop: July 14-15, 2018[1]

First revision due date: August 1, 2018

Second round decisions: November 1, 2018

Second revision due date: February 1, 2019

Third round decisions: April 1, 2019

Final editorial decisions: June 15, 2019

Submission Process Details

Submissions to the special issue should be sent electronically through the JPIM ScholarOne System ( Authors need to clearly indicate in their submission information and letter that their manuscript is for the Special Issue on “Social innovation in an interconnected world.” All submissions will be subject to a double blind review process followed by JPIM. All manuscripts must be original, unpublished works that are not concurrently under review for publication elsewhere. All submissions should conform to the JPIM manuscript submission guidelines available at Questions about this special issue may be directed to any of the guest editors.

Statement of Ad Hoc, Editorial Review Board and Book and/or Journal Editorial Experience for All Guest Editors

Ruby P. Lee is Professor of Marketing and Director of International Programs at the College of Business, Florida State University. She is also named Fulbright-Hanken Distinguished Chair in Business and Economics and awarded to visit Hanken School of Economics, Finland in 2016-17. Her work has been published in the Journal of Marketing, Journal of Product Innovation Management, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Decision Sciences, Marketing Letters, Journal of World Business, Journal of International Marketing, among others. In addition, Ruby is on the editorial boards of multiple journals such as Journal of Product Innovation Management, Journal of World Business, Journal of International Marketing, and Industrial Marketing Management. In 2014-15, she served as the chief guest editor of Industry Marketing Management’s special issue on “Innovation in and from Emerging Economies.”

Jelena Spanjol is Professor at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (Munich, Germany), where she heads the Institute for Innovation Management. Before joining LMU Munich, she served on the faculties of the University of Illinois at Chicago and Texas A&M University. Jelena’s research has been recognized with several awards and grants, and she is currently a Strategic Management Society (SMS) SRF Scholar. Her research has been published in the Journal of Marketing, Journal of Product Innovation Management, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Journal of Service Research, Marketing Letters, Journal of Business Ethics, Creativity & Innovation Management, Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, Health Psychology,and in various book chapters. Jelena is an editorial board member at the Journal of Product Innovation Management and Creativity & Innovation Management and is currently co-editing a book (with Abbie Griffin and Sebastian Gurtner) on Leveraging Constraints for Innovation – the 3rd volume of the PDMA Essentials series.

Sunny Li Sun is Associate Professor of Marketing, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation at the Manning School of Business, University of Massachusetts, Lowell. He received his PhD from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2010. His work has appeared in journals such as Strategic Management Journal, Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of Management Studies, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, Industrial Marketing Management, Journal of World Business, and Academy of Management Perspectives. In addition, Dr. Sun serves on the editorial review boards of multiple journals including Asia Pacific Journal of Managementand Quarterly Journal of Management. He has been an ad hoc reviewer for other journals such as Journal of Academy of Management Journal, Organization Science, Organization Studies, California Management Review,Journal of Corporate Finance,Industrial Marketing Management, Journal of Business Research, and Journal of Product Innovation Management. He served as the chief guest editor of Asia Pacific Journal of Management’s special issue on “Institutions and Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies.”

Bo Zou is Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the School of Management at Harbin Institute of Technology. He received his PhD from Harbin Institute of Technology in 2009. He was a visiting scholar at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2014-2015. He has published 37 papers in Chinese and English journal, such as Industrial Management & Data Systems and Neurocomputing.

References Related to Motivation and Focus

Cajaiba-Santana, G. 2014. Social innovation: Moving the field forward. A conceptual framework. Technological Forecasting and Social Change 82(1), 42-51.

Dutta, S., Lanvin, B. and Wunsch-Vincent, S. 2015. The Global Innovation Index 2015: Effective Innovation Policies for Development. World Intellectual Property Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.

Lee, R. P., Özsomer, A., and Zhou, K. Z. 2015. Introduction to the special issue on “Innovation in and from Emerging Economies. Industrial Marketing Management 50 (October), 16-17.

Marquis, C. and Park, A. 2014. Inside the buy-one give-one model. Stanford Social Innovation Review 12(1), 28-33.

Murray, R., Caulier-Grice, J. and Mulgan, G. 2010. The open book of social innovation. London: The Young Foundation and Nesta.

Phills, J.A., Deiglmeier, K. and Miller, D.T. 2008. Rediscovering social innovation. Stanford social innovation review 6(4), 34-43.

Prahalad, C. K. 2004. The fortune at the bottom of the pyramid. NJ: Wharton School Publishing.

Radjou, N. and Prabhu, J. 2015. Frugal innovation: How to do more with less. The Economist.

Stilgoe, J., Owen, R. and Macnaghten, P. 2013. Developing a framework for responsible innovation, Research Policy, 42 (9), 1568-1580.

Subramaniam, M., Ernst, H., & Dubiel A. 2015. From the special issue editors: Innovations for and from Emerging Markets. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 32 (1), 5-11.

Sun, S. L. and Im, J. 2015. Cutting microfinance interest rates: An opportunity co-creation perspective. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 39(1), 101-128.

Sun, S. L. and Lee, R. P. 2013. Enhancing innovation through international joint venture portfolios: From the emerging firm perspective. Journal of International Marketing, 21(3), 1-21.

Varadarajan, R. 2014. Toward sustainability: public policy, global social innovations for base-of-the-pyramid markets, and demarketing for a better world. Journal of International Marketing, 22 (2), 1-20.

Varadarajan, R. 2017. Innovating for sustainability: a framework for sustainable innovations and a model of sustainable innovations orientation. Journal of The Academy of Marketing Science, 45(1), 14-36