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How Can Large Corporations Incorporate Social Innovation?

Global conglomerates aren’t the place you look for innovative strategies to improve the world, but they are going to have to be involved in global change. How can they change their thinking?

Robert Wolcott is a professor of innovation management strategy at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. In other words, he studies how companies innovate. Wolcott specifically focuses on large companies, places where innovation and creative thinking can get lost in bureaucracy and complacency.

How can these companies do more to instill the values of social innovation—which Wolcott defines as "seeking the mission and pursuing meaningful change that ultimately, hopefully creates prosperity for everyone"? It comes from the top: There’s a small chance new projects that come out of large corporations might add some social value, he says, but if there are instructions from management that employees must bake in social good to new initiatives, they will find a way. People only think about what’s in front of them, unless they’re told otherwise, so change needs to come from above.

This video is part of a series on prominent social innovators, convened by PwC during the 2011 Social Innovation Summit and discussing their work that we’ll be hosting here on Co.Exist.

Here’s a little preview of everyone who will be featured.

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  • Jessica Watson

    We think that partnerships with major corporations may be the quickest way to bring scale to solve some of our biggest problems. Here's a way we think we can leverage mobile network operators to help bring solar lighting to Africa:

  • damionwaters

    This term has all but lost it's meaning, "social innovation" has become a buzz term for companies who want to be perceived as caring about the customer. Even Walmart has a director of "sustainability".