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Commercial orientation and grassroots social innovation: insight from the sharing economy.

Martin, Chris; Upham, Paul and Budd, Leslie (2015). Commercial orientation and grassroots social innovation: insight from the sharing economy. Ecological Economics, 118 pp. 240–251.

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There is growing interest in the roles of the sharing economy and grassroots innovation in the transition to sustainable societies. Grassroots innovation research has tended to assume a sharp distinction between grassroots organisations and businesses within niches of socio-technical innovation. However, the non-profit sector literature identifies a tendency for non-profit organisations to actually become more commercially-oriented over time. Seeking to account for this tendency, we develop a conceptual model of the dynamics of grassroots organisations within socio-technical niches. Using a case study of Freegle, a grassroots organisation within the sharing economy niche, we apply the conceptual model to illustrate the causes, processes and outcomes of grassroots niche organisations becoming more commercially-oriented. We show that a grassroots organisation may be subject to coercive and indirect (isomorphic) pressures to become more commercially-oriented and highlight the ambiguities of this dynamic. Furthermore, we highlight that global niche actors may exert coercive pressures that limit the enactment and propagation of the practices and values of grassroots organisations. We conclude by highlighting the need for further research exploring the desirability and feasibility of protecting grassroots organisations from pressures to become more commercially-oriented.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2015 Elsevier B.V.
ISSN: 0921-8009
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
eGovernment - Social Enterprises and Socio-Technical PerspectivesES/L00271X/1ESRC
Keywords: sharing economy; grassroots innovation; sustainability transitions; social innovation; collaborative consumption; grassroots organisations.
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Business and Law (FBL)
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business > Department for Public Leadership and Social Enterprise
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business
Research Group: Innovation, Knowledge & Development research centre (IKD)
Item ID: 43936
Depositing User: Chris Martin
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2015 09:52
Last Modified: 03 Jun 2019 21:18
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