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Knowledge creation about how to design, set up, manage, and scale up social innovations and enterprises is at an early stage. Moreover, social impact is highly dependent on the context – the specific target group; social, economic, institutional and political conditions – hence "blindly" scaling up from one context to the next can do more damage than good. The LSE Social Innovation Lab works with our ecosystem of social innovators in the field to generate new, relevant and evidence-based knowledge. Key characteristics of our research are:

Understanding the Workings of Social Innovations

We seek to understand the workings of social innovations in the domain of our mission, introduced by leading change makers who become our ecosystem partners. We study these innovations through layered projects: Using multiple research rounds to develop an in-depth understanding of whether, when (under which conditions), why, how and for whom the social innovation generates social impact.

Generating and Testing New Theory

Rather than "blindly" applying Western theories to emerging economy social settings, our research first generates new theory (inductive, qualitative research) which is then tested in the local context (quantitative research) to generate valid, evidence-based knowledge.

Taking a Multi-disciplinary Approach

Our research is multi-disciplinary, combining strengths of Management, Development, Anthropology, and other disciplines – in terms of theories and methodologies – to develop valid, socially relevant knowledge. We consider LSE, with both its breadth and depth of expertise in these domains globally, to be a premier setting.

Understanding Contextuality

To understand "contextuality" – what works the same and what works differently across contexts, and how, why, and for whom, we conduct, multi-year, multi-disciplinary, multi-method, multi-researcher (senior researchers, post-doctorals, PhD students) projects exploring social innovations. We focus on sectors such as primary and secondary education, skills training (incubators for entrepreneurs), health care, ICT, and agriculture. The most relevant ‘geographies’ for our mission are South Asia (mainly India and Bangladesh), West Africa (mainly Nigeria), East Africa (Kenya), Southern Africa (South Africa) and South America (Brazil).

Supporting Grant Acquisitions

We enable and support the development and acquisition of mid-sized and large grants in all of the above domains – both at  LSE and for our ecosystem partners.

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