New publication by EMES member, Nadeen Purna on social innovation

New publication by EMES member, Nadeen Purna on social innovation

EMES members publish extensively in international and national journals as well as in individual books and collaborative volumes. We are happy to share a new paper of our member, Nadeen Purna, PhD candidate at Abertay University (UK). The paper “Social Innovation: Drawing Lines Around the Appropriative Usage by Mainstream Sectors” was co-authored with Prof. Stefano De Paoli for the Voluntas, the official journal of the International Society for Third-Sector Research (ISTR). We have asked Nadeen to share with us how this and her research overall connect to the EMES community.

The paper ‘Social Innovation: Drawing Lines Around the Appropriative Usage by Mainstream Sectors’ that I have co-authored with Prof. Stefano De Paoli provide a critical view of the appropriation of social innovation by various mainstream sectors. Such appropriation in our view takes social innovation away from the common good by repackaging the concept for promoting own agenda, like neoliberalism. By unpacking the core and distinguishing tenets of social innovation from papers identified using a systematic literature review and by locating the current trajectory of social innovation discourse within academia we identify that it is in the actions of grassroots third sector initiatives where the democratic side of social innovation is conserved. Hence, we call for such views’ advancement to prevent exploitation of disadvantaged communities and hogging of resources away from initiatives that are committed to real social innovation.

The EMES community has been instrumental for me in both my PhD thesis and this paper as I drew from the scholarship by members of its research network. The knowledge produced by the EMES community helps shed light on various complex facets of social enterprise, third sector, and social innovation that might otherwise not make it to the purview of resource providers and policymakers; it is such neglected and seemingly mundane segment of third sector’s work that fascinates me as I believe true social innovation can be unpacked when we take a deeper dive into their processes. My work via this paper and the overall PhD thesis, thus, fits in with the EMES community’s goal of building both the theoretical and empirical base of interrelated areas of social innovation, third sector, and the social enterprise.

The paper is published in the Open Acess and you can find it here.

We are proud of Nadeen and thank her and other scholars around the world for their real positive impact in their communities and for their commitment to EMES!


Nadeen Purna is a final year PhD candidate at Abertay University in Scotland, UK. Her PhD thesis is using a constructivist grounded theory approach to explore how the social innovation assemblage is mobilised by local third-sector organisations and if the prevalent funding behaviour is commensurate to supporting such social innovation. The study comes within a larger project called ‘Mapping for Social Innovation’.  She is also working as a research associate at Oxford Brookes University in its Social Investment Project exploring how the current regulatory framework in the UK influences its social investment market and facilitates social innovation.


If you are not a member of EMES yet, join today to share a selection of your publications with the community of social enterprise researchers around the world.

Don’t miss more entries and news

What are you interested in?