Scaling and Diffusion
There are many methods for growing social innovations – from organisational growth and franchising to collaboration and looser diffusion. Some of these involve scaling – a metaphor taken from manufacturing. Others are better understood as more organic – ‘cut and graft’, with ideas adapting as they spread, rather than growing in a single form. Indeed, most social ideas have spread not through the growth of an organisation but through emulation. The supply of ideas and demand for them tend to co-evolve: there are relatively few fields where there are straightforward solutions which can simply be spread.
In this section, we look at a variety of ways to grow and spread innovations. There are marked differences between the spread and diffusion of innovations in the social and market economies. The private economy is structured to reserve the benefits of an innovation to its own organisation or to those licensees or franchisees willing to pay for it. The social economy – being primarily oriented around social missions, favours the rapid diffusion of an innovation rather than keeping it private. This is one reason why the social economy has less compulsion to organisational growth and more towards collaborative networking as a way of sharing innovation.