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Networks of innovation: tracing the structures of flows among not-for-profit open source software foundations, philanthropies and intermediaries, 2004–06

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Foundations are said to spark and facilitate innovation in the non-profit sector. This article offers a structural-institutional analysis of organisational and technological innovation in the non-profit sector. The world of free/open source software (F/OSS) provides the empirical case with which to study how innovation takes place among organisations and how foundations can contribute to it. Based on a social network analysis of hyperlinks combined with qualitative data from interviews and participant observations, the authors demonstrate how flows of money, knowledge and technology contribute to innovation within a network. A network consisting of different kinds of foundations and intermediaries that came together from 2004 to 2006 provides a unique example of relationships between foundations and grantees that allowed for the coordination of innovations without the explicit control of any of its constituent members. The implications of innovation networks for technology adoption in the non-profit sector are discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 2014

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  • Voluntary Sector Review publishes high-quality, peer-reviewed, accessible papers on third sector research, policy and practice. It is an invaluable cutting-edge resource for all those researching or working in the fast-growing voluntary, community and wider third sectors.

    The journal covers the full range of issues relevant to voluntary sector studies, including: definitional and theoretical debates; management and organisational development; financial and human resources; philanthropy; volunteering and employment; regulation and charity law; service delivery; civic engagement; industry and sub-sector dimensions; relations with other sectors; social enterprise; evaluation and impact. Voluntary Sector Review covers voluntary sector studies from a variety of disciplines, including sociology, social policy, politics, psychology, economics, business studies, social anthropology, philosophy and ethics. The journal includes work from the UK and Europe, and beyond, where cross-national comparisons are illuminating. With dedicated expert policy and practice sections, Voluntary Sector Review also provides an essential forum for the exchange of ideas and new thinking.

    Rigorous and stimulating, Voluntary Sector Review is an indispensable tool for everyone who values empirically-grounded, theoretically-informed and policy-relevant reviews of the future direction of the voluntary sector.

    Editors: Nick Acheson (Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland), Bernard Harris (University of Strathclyde, UK), Rob Macmillan, (University of Birmingham, UK)

    The journal is published in association with the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) and a print copy of the journal is a membership benefit.

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