P02 Catalyzing Innovation for Public Value: Unlocking the Power of Social Entrepreneurship and Strategic Public Management

Corresponding chair:

Review group chair:


  • Alessandro Sancino, Università di Milano Bicocca & Open University London, UK
  • Mario Calderini, Politecnico di Milano – School of Management, Milan, Italy


This panel seeks to uncover the intricate connections between public value literature, innovation studies, strategic public management and social entrepreneurship and their potential to drive high-public-value innovations, particularly in the context of societal challenges and transformative change.

The discourse around public value has emphasized the role of engaging different actors in public discourse in an attempt to balance powers and conflicts and create shared values (see Steccolini 2019 for a discussion on different approaches). Multi-actor, multi-sector collaboration is a pivotal viewpoint for understanding how innovation can yield public value (Sancino, 2022). Moreover, recent studies shed light on the role of social entrepreneurship in catalyzing transformative innovation, i.e., innovation aimed at addressing social challenges through the unique governance and organizational attributes of social enterprises (Calderini, Fia, Gerli, 2023).

This panel addresses the topic of how public organizations can strategically promote high-public-value innovations by leveraging social entrepreneurship (Calderini, Fia, Gerli, 2023). Governments play a multifaceted role in innovation processes (Hartley, 2005; Ronning et al., 2022), beyond their traditional roles of providing funding or being end-users of innovative solutions (Crosby et al., 2017; Bryson et al., 2017).

This approach goes beyond a narrow understanding of social Innovation as promoted by third sector organizations to fix market and government failures; and it entails adopting a strategic approach to multi-actor and multi-sector collaborations to support the so-called open and transformative innovations (Bogers et al, 2019; Fagerberg, 2018; Brogaard, 2021). Transformative innovation can guide the innovation actors toward addressing—or at the very least, mitigating—societal challenges within the framework of the UN Agenda 2030 (Diercks et al., 2019).

This panel investigates how public administration can adopt a strategic approach (Greve & Ysa, 2023) to nurture the synergy between innovation and social enterprises to generate public value and respond to grand challenges in a transformative manner. The panel aims to contribute to the field of Public Management, advancing the understanding of public value co-creation by investigating the dynamics of strategically engaging citizens and multiple actors from various sectors, particularly from the social economy, in co-creation, open social innovation and transformative innovation (Ansell and Torfing, 2021; Sancino et al., 2023; Schmidthuber et al., 2019).

This panel bridges public value literature, innovation studies, strategic public management and social entrepreneurship to explore theoretical foundations, recent experiences, and case studies that illuminate the synergy between public actors, social and hybrid entrepreneurship, and innovation for societal challenges. We also welcome critical perspectives on potential risks associated with this synergy between Innovation and private actors from Social Entrepreneurship for high-public value innovation (Williams and Shearer, 2011). Abstracts are invited on the following research questions, although alternative viewpoints are also encouraged:

  1. How can PA effectively promote high-public-value innovations through social entrepreneurship?
  2. What is PA’s key role and responsibility in catalyzing innovation for PV? In particular what is/could be the role and the practices of strategic public management?
  3. What are the successful examples of multi-actor and multi-sector collaborations in supporting transformative innovations?
  4. How do governance structures within organizations, particularly entrepreneurial ones, influence the generation of innovative solutions with PV? And, how public sector can support it?
  5. What are the challenges and opportunities in nurturing the synergy between innovation and social entrepreneurship to generate PV?
  6. What are the strategies and best practices for fostering collaboration between public organizations, private sector entities, and civil society to drive innovation for PV?
  7. What are the key indicators and metrics for evaluating the PV generated by innovative solutions driven by social entrepreneurship?
  • References
  • Ansell, C., & Torfing, J. (2021). Public governance as co-creation: A strategy for revitalizing the public sector and rejuvenating democracy. Cambridge University Press.
  • Bogers, M., Chesbrough, H., Heaton, S., & Teece, D. J. (2019). Strategic management of open innovation: A dynamic capabilities perspective. California Management Review62(1), 77-94.
  • Brogaard, L. (2021). Innovative outcomes in public-private innovation partnerships: a systematic review of empirical evidence and current challenges. Public Management Review23(1), 135-157.
  • Calderini, M., Fia, M., & Gerli, F. (2023). Organizing for transformative innovation policies: The role of social enterprises. Theoretical insights and evidence from Italy. Research Policy52(7), 104818.
  • Crosby, B. C., ‘t Hart, P., & Torfing, J. (2017). Public value creation through collaborative innovation. Public Management Review19(5), 655-669.
  • Diercks, G., Larsen, H., & Steward, F. (2019). Transformative innovation policy: Addressing variety in an emerging policy paradigm. Research Policy48(4), 880-894.
  • Fagerberg, J. (2018). Mobilizing innovation for sustainability transitions: A comment on transformative innovation policy. Research Policy47(9), 1568-1576.
  • Greve, C., & Ysa, T. (2023). Handbook on strategic public management. Edward Elgar.
  • Hartley, J. (2005). Innovation in governance and public services: Past and present. Public money and management, 25(1), 27-34.
  • Rønning, R., Hartley, J., Fuglsang, L., & Geuijen, K. (2022). Valuing Public Innovation: Contributions to Theory and Practice. Springer Nature.
  • Sancino, A. (2022). Public value co-creation: A multi-actor & multi-sector perspective. Emerald Publishing.
  • Sancino, A., Scognamiglio, F., Corvo, L., Imperiale, F., & Pasi, G. (2023). Institutionalizing Experimental Places for Inclusive Social Innovation: From Utopias to Heterotopias. VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 1-13.
  • Schmidthuber, L., Piller, F., Bogers, M., & Hilgers, D. (2019). Citizen participation in public administration: investigating open government for social innovation. R&d Management, 49(3), 343-355.Steccolini, I. (2019). New development: Gender (responsive) budgeting—A reflection on critical issues and future challenges. Public Money & Management39(5), 379-383.
  • Williams, I., & Shearer, H. (2011). Appraising public value: Past, present and futures. Public administration, 89(4), 1367-1384.