Intellectual evolution of social innovation: A bibliometric analysis and avenues for future research trends

Pantea Foroudi , Tugra Nazli Akarsu , Reza Marvi, J Balakrishnan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite the fact that the concept of social innovation is extensively employed by scholars and practitioners, yet the conceptualisation and the research structure remained fragmented and scattered, because no rigorous attempt has been made to understand the core concept of social innovation. The notion of social innovation is multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary fluctuating from public-policy to environmental sustainability; which makes an investigation of the concept essential for business-to-business practitioners and scholars. By processing 370 publications from a sample of 125 journals and books with a total of 2941 citations, the authors unpack/unfold the intellectual foundation of social innovation in business and management domains by performing four bibliometric analyses and they evaluate the research domain qualitatively (1970–2019). By using co-citation, network visualisation through co-occurrence data, multi-dimensional scaling, and hierarchical cluster analysis, this research sheds light to the intellectual structure of social innovation including social value, economic value, societal impact, and bifocal innovations. This research reveals the key research clusters embodied by social innovation foundation. The present study identifies four important components for the future avenues of social innovation (i.e. opportunity, innovation practice, opportunity exploiter, value), and proposes a potential research framework to the researchers and practitioners, hoping to provide insights on social innovation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)446-465
Number of pages19
JournalIndustrial Marketing Management
Early online date7 Apr 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

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  • Social innovation
  • intellectual structure
  • knowledge development
  • bibliometrics


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