Dignity and the Process of Social Innovation: Lessons from Social Entrepreneurship and Transformative Services for Humanistic Management

Humanistic Management Journal 4 (2):125-153 (2019)
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In this paper we advance inquiry into human dignity in relation to the theory and practice of social entrepreneurship and innovation in a two-fold manner. First, we explore how concepts from the literatures of human dignity and humanistic management can inform and enrich social entrepreneurship and innovation. Second, we examine case studies of social entrepreneurship and innovation to refine how we think about and operationalize notions of human dignity. In this way, we connect human dignity research more closely to alternative life-conducive forms of organizing. Our goals are to advance an understanding of human dignity and to make this concept more accessible and relevant in business and management, as well as to explore how the practice of social entrepreneurship and innovation can both enrich and be enriched by the notion of human dignity. Third, we draw on the emerging literature of humanistic management to generate a classification system in the context of social innovation that specifies how organizing can contribute to dignity restoration, dignity protection, and dignity promotion. We elaborate and showcase paradigmatic cases, probe the limits of these cases for future research, and consider how to extend this dignity organizing model to other modes of business practice, such as the notion of value creation. Fourth, we outline an emerging research agenda for those interested in connecting innovation and organizing practices writ large with the notion of human dignity.



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