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Social Intrapreneurship:  Leading Social Innovation in Organizations

Social Intrapreneurship:  Leading Social Innovation in Organizations

Getting a major initiative to succeed in big organizations is much like leading a social movement.  It takes being able to read the opportunity structure and thinking like an entrepreneur as one's career develops; mapping the social system to locate allies inside and outside the organization; mobilizing a team using available technologies; and framing the initiative in a way that motivates decision makers and makes the business case. 

The course draws on the latest advances in social research, network analysis, and information technology to provide a toolkit for leading social innovation within organizations.  We first lay out a framework for how effective social movements change organizations.  This framework includes four parts: reading the opportunity structure to recognize when the time is right for an innovation; mapping the social terrain to locate allies and supporters; mobilizing allies into a team; and framing the case effectively as a business proposition.  The second session breaks down the process of recognizing opportunities, drawing on the experience of a successful intrapreneur who built a major social initiative at IBM.  The third and fourth sessions are training in the tools of social network analysis and their application as a way to visualize and quantify the social terrain.  Here we will see how to use public information to map out power structures inside and beyond the organization.  The fifth session highlights newly available tools for mobilization that have underlain actions from whimsical "flash mobs" to political protests in the wake of contested elections.  The sixth session lays out the rules for making the case for change to decision makers, from how to frame it to how to demonstrate its business value. 

In the second half of the course, we go through several cases of successful and unsuccessful social innovation in organizations.  Innovations can be of several types: products (selling goods and services whose value extends beyond profit), practices (making how we do it more sustainable), people (making the workplace more just and rewarding), and public (building the community beyond).  We end with live practice in making a compelling and brief pitch for your innovation to a client board.

Business (Ross)
Course Number(s) UM Course ID Academic Level Credits Sustainability Category*
MO 637 043896 Graduate 2.25 Sustainability-Inclusive

Academic Terms

2022Winter, Fall