IMI - Innovation Management Institute

Building Innovation Agency through Empowering Backstage Collaboration

Duration:01.11.2014 - 31.10.2017
Project manager: Lempiälä Tea
Research area:Innovation practices
Research funders:

General information

The BINEC project aims to discover how innovation processes can be more genuinely inclusive of the contributions and insight of such grass-root level actors whose innovation agency is particularly restricted. These actors are usually found in underserved communities whose members are used to being recipients of aid and novel solutions but not empowered actors themselves. Such communities can be found in both emerging markets and developed countries, and the BINEC project has field sites in both contexts, more specifically in Brazil, India, California and Finland. The need for inclusiveness of innovation processes in such context has been noted widely (e.g. George et al., 2012; Ansari et al, 2012) and researchers have argued that the current approaches for including the underserved in innovation activity is still too focused on seeing them as consumers or producers, rather than creators of innovations themselves. 

The essence of the BINEC project lies in investigating the grass-root level innovation and development practice of underserved communities, and thus generating more understanding of what are its essential logics and qualities. In particular, the project studies what parts of the development practice are currently overtly shown and considered as legitimate when interacting with outside parties, such as NGO’s, formal authorities and corporations, and what parts of it are respectively hidden. Moreover, the project aims to increase the agency of the grass-root level actors through creating a wider space of legitimacy for the aspects of the development practice that are currently hidden and de-legitimized. In doing this, the project strives to create affordances for meaningful and mutually supportive collaboration among the community members and external parties, as well as internally between community members (where possible). Furhet, the project promotes perceiving resource scarce communities as active developers of new products, services and practices instead of just recipients of aid or innovations.

The project is linked to the BACI project, in which research on a similar research inquiry is conducted in corporate contexts. The aim is to bridge between the two contexts, and thus create added understanding of their similarities and differences with respect to the limitations to innovation agency. Such bridgings have been rarely made but are increasingly called. For example, ‘frugal innovations’, innovations born in scarce resource environments, have been brought up as important novel innovation models that can be distributed also to contexts where resources are more abundant (e.g. established corporations and societies), leading to more efficient solutions.  

Project personnel

Tea Lempiälä Dr. Sc. (Econ) Tea Lempiälä
Head of Research Area
Mobile phone: +358 40 500 0064
Sanni Tiitinen D.Soc.Sc. Sanni Tiitinen
Mobile phone: +358 50 462 6444