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4th GSB Conference on the Business of Social and Environmental Innovation

Call For Papers
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Thursday, July 31, 2014
Cape Town, South Africa
Conference Date: 
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Submission Deadline: 
Thu, 07/31/2014
Location Information: 
Cape Town, South Africa
The overarching objective of this conference series is to create a better understanding of the role of business in addressing complex social problems by generating social and environmental innovation, especially from an African perspective.

The overarching objective of this conference series is to create a better understanding of the role of business and organizational thinking in resolving societal issues, especially from an African perspective. We welcome papers that address this broad theme, but we invite in particular submissions on this year’s theme “Design thinking to balance stability and change in organizational innovation”.

Persisting and increasingly urgent economic, social and environmental challenges have spurred renewed calls for innovation and new forms of organizing. However, engaging in organizational innovation often creates tensions at different levels that need harmonising. A basic challenge is to balance stability and change across a number of dimensions or organizational life. Examples of such balancing acts include:

  1. Analytical thinking vs intuitive thinking.
  2. New business models vs administration of business.
  3. Shareholder value vs shared value.
  4. Short-term goals vs long-term goals.
  5. Reliability vs validity.
  6. Controlling and planning vs emergence and doing

Grappling with these tensions requires attention to the process of organising as the most basic set of a activities we can thoughtfully set out to do. “Design thinking” – an approach or philosophy that emphasises creative responses to paradox and dichotomies – has much to offer in this regard. Design thinking encourages infusing intervention processes with more empathy, a focus on co-creation and rapid prototyping. Those being served with a new product or service ideas are genuinely included as co-creators of the new product or service; there is a sincere search for what is desirable, affordable and feasible. Collaboration across organizational or institutional boundaries is thus an inherent feature of design thinking. The inter-play of these new philosophies underpinning interventions in organizational and societal settings sets the scene for many learning opportunities. Design thinking concepts give coherence to a number of thoughts in organizational studies such as organizational ambidexterity, shared-value creation and values- based leadership.

Design thinking is also equally popular as practical approaches. Indeed a key objective of
Cape Town as World Design Capital 2014 is to leave a “design thinking legacy” in the City and Province. This call for contributions is therefore an opportunity to make explicit what the pursuit of organizational innovation means and portends for established roles, systems, patterns and routines – at the individual/personal level, organizational level, inter-organizational level and societal level. With this emphasis and in the spirit of engaged scholarship, we look for stories, narratives, case studies and conceptual contributions that recount efforts and distill practices, concepts and principles. Conference Chair for BSEI 2014 is Prof Kosheek Sewchurran.

We welcome contributions from a variety of theoretical,methodological and practical perspectives, emphasising cross-fertilisation between different disciplines, themes and contexts. Please submit an extended abstract (1500-2000 words) of your paper or practitioner case to by 31
July 2014. Authors will be notified regarding acceptance of paper and cases by 15 August 2014.