Social, commercial, or both? An exploratory study of the identity orientation of digital social innovations

Mar 31st, 2020 | By | Category: RSS Feed


The information systems literature has studied digital innovation extensively and focused primarily on its commercial related objectives. Yet, digital social innovations (DSIs) seek to solve social problems, while implementing commercially viable approaches. Drawing from the social entrepreneurship literature and using computational social science methods, we identify the peculiar utilitarian (commercial) and collectivistic (social) identity orientations that shape DSI. We use a sample of 292 DSI initiatives from Latin America and find that DSIs present both utilitarian and collectivist identity orientation. We also find that the collectivistic identity orientation tends to be more salient in less developed contexts. This allows us to discuss implications for the research on DSI and to open up a discussion on the role of context and possible tensions that may emerge in combining both identity orientations.


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