Organizing for social innovation – it´s all about giving something back?

How can we actually leverage on the talents around the globe, and still make sure that the development continues in the home country? There are a lot of different perspectives on this issue, and some authors highlight the impact of diaspora networks across the world. The Indian IT-professionals are frequently mentioned as an example of highly educated talents from “the developing” world which are gaining success in collaboration with multinational companies both within India (eg. TCS and  Infosys), as parts of the offshoring business with offshore development centers, and as the aforementioned diaspora – going abroad.

In what ways can globalization benefit us all? I still think Joseph Stiglitz book “Making globalization work” is a good eye-opener which tells us how screwed up the world can be sometimes, and how unfair globalization has turned some of the practices and policies the politicians are promoting.

Björn Söderberg is an example of the kind of entrepreneur we like to promote at the Innovation management program in Eskilstuna. He went to Nepal for inspiration and relaxation after graduation in Sweden, and unanticipated events lead to an inspiring career as a serial entrepreneur in Nepal. From recognizing the potential of the huge garbage piles in the capital (making Christmas cards for Swedish companies), to empowering employees and starting up a consultancy of web development professionals. When I was listening to one of his speeches recently, one thing really got stuck on my mind – the power of education as empowerment. Starting with teaching his employees how to read, which resulted in massive improvement of efficiency in the Watabaran company, to helping build the country by providing an incubator milieu for the Nepalese talents within Websearch professionals, is truly inspiring. I guess it is a problem of many countries, the top talents leave the country for education or work abroad, and many of them never return to their home country which so desperately would need the highly skilled workers. The idea behind Websearch was not to take on low cost IT-services as the offshoring boom in India did, but to provide a skilled Nepalese workforce with complicated problems that called for their expertise and intrinsic motivation – hence a reason not to leave the country, but help building it instead.

Sweden is known for innovation both in terms of products and climate, but when it comes to social innovation and social (and fair?) entrepreneurship; we have a lot to learn. One of our partners at MDU, Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research, is constantly providing us with examples on how to systemize the use of social innovation and empowerment. Their effort to include some students which not has the academic record or financial opportunities to join the programs through mentoring program is impressive. By taking in some students which would not have entered higher education by their own, providing them with student mentors and after completion of the program at least doubling their previous salary, it is a big incentive to give back. When these students offer a small part of their salary to finance another student into the program, the system starts running. What if we all could do that?

There has been a lot of attention in the Swedish media the last few days about the fact that students with rich parents are increasingly outperforming their poorer classmates. This is an alarming trend in Sweden which is known for the stable national social system. Even though education in Sweden is free, and everyone has an opportunity to take a lone for the living expenses through higher education, we still don´t manage to bring along all layers of the community. 

Ericsson and TCS are collaborating with MDU to educate Indian top talent students in an international master program, leveraging on an industrial reseach and innovation lab. The second batch has just finished, and I got the opprtunity to interview the students. Their highlights was the opportunity to go to a country with an education system which emphasized the practical aspect of knowledge, to be able to specialize in something which was important to their client, as well as learning from brilliant minds and take time to think about what innovation means in everyday work. I have faith in that these students will go back to the offshore development center with new perspectives that will gain both their Indian employee as well as swedish client. I just hope that these curious minds will be listened to!

How do you think organizations should design their practices in order to make globalization work, to give back something back while still maximizing the profit?


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Hello world!

I think this is a pretty suitable header considering the name of this blog. Hello world!

Globalization has changed the nature of innovation, as the network on a personal as well as firm level seems limitless. Open innovation or outsourcing, the strategies for coping with this fact differs. This blog will suit as a platform for me to develop some of the ideas that come up in the daily work of researching the facets of collaborative innovation.

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