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Social Enterprise Journal

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Homelessness -- United States, Homelessness -- Social aspects, Universities and colleges -- Research -- United States -- Management, Social change -- Research, Social justice


Purpose This paper aims to determine whether a combined set of process models for university contributions to social innovation can be effectively used to describe how higher education institutions facilitate and disseminate research for social value.

Design/methodology/approach The author applies Cunha and Benneworth’s (2013) social innovation process model, with additions from the Nichols et al. (2013) model of campus-community collaboration and the Jain et al. (2020) social value framework, to a pair of case studies at Portland State University about research projects on homelessness. Information was gathered through primary sources, observation and secondary texts.

Findings Applying the models to the case studies provides additional detail on the types and value of Portland State University’s contributions to addressing homelessness through social innovation. The models are found to be effective in describing and providing guidance for social innovation research projects at other higher education institutions.

Research limitations/implications The models may have widespread applicability in understanding or designing university contributions to social innovation, but additional case studies and analysis are needed to understand the full range of project types and institutional contexts to which they can be successfully applied.

Originality/value The projects described in the paper’s case studies have not been analyzed elsewhere using social innovation frameworks and are valuable in their own right as social innovations worthy of replication. The findings of the paper extend the applicability of a process model for university contributions to social innovation.


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