TRANSIT WP3 deliverable D3.2 – “A first prototype of TSI theory”

Alex Haxeltine, René Kemp, Adina Dumitru, Flor Avelino, Bonno Pel, Julia Wittmayer, Jason Chilvers, Jens Dorland, Tom Hargreaves, Isabel Lema Blanco, Noel Longhurst, Gill Seyfang, Adrian Smith, Michael Søgaard Jørgensen, Paul Weaver

Research output: Book/ReportReport


The purpose of this deliverable (D3.2) of the TRANSIT research project is to report on the development of a ‘first prototype’ of a middle-range theory of transformative social innovation. The ‘prototype’ is presented here in the form a framework for Transformative Social Innovation, which at this point (in the research process) consists of a theoretically-grounded conceptual framework for TSI together with a set of propositions about the dynamics of TSI, that have been developed based on the findings of the first phase of empirical research in the project.

The resultant framework for TSI provides a structure that is intended to be generative of further empirical research and theory development, rather than being a ‘fully formed’ theory at this stage Thus it brings together different theoretical resources and ‘building blocks’ in ways that are not yet fully integrated but that rather frame further theory development, and similarly the propositions about TSI dynamics presented, are not yet fully validated statements about TSI dynamics but rather represent a preliminary and tentative structuring of our insights about TSI, and imply the questions that need to be asked in further developing a theory of TSI. The version of the framework for TSI presented here was developed during the first 15 months of the project based on a series of research activities, including:

i. Developing an initial conceptualisation and theoretical framing of social innovation (SI), including mapping how it has been understood until now, and making choices about how to theorise and conceptualise social innovation in this research project;
ii. Developing an initial understanding of what we mean by transformative change and developing working definitions and a conceptual framing of transformative change;
iii. Developing a set of theoretical reviews of existing bodies of theory (see Annex 2) selected both from the SI literature and from bodies of theory that have not yet been widely used in SI research but that were judged to be potentially useful to this project;
iv. Wide ranging discussions, dialogues and debates aimed at conceptual and theoretical grounding of the TSI concept; including both discussions within the project and consultation within the Social Innovation (SI) research community;
v. A first Theoretical Integration Workshop (TIW) which brought together the findings of the first batch of TRANSIT case studies with the theory development (see Annex 3 for a workshop report). Based on the outcomes of this TIW, the WP3 team developed a consolidated set of propositions about TSI dynamics (see chapter 3 of this report).

This deliverable (D3.2) very much represents a ‘work in progress’: it will be followed by two further iterations of prototypes of the TSI theory (in years 3 and 4 of the project). Its purpose within the timeline of the research process is three fold: firstly, it informs the next phase of empirical case study research in the project (the ‘batch 2’ cases) with a conceptual framing and set of propositions; secondly, it informs the survey and meta-analysis to be conducted in WP5; and finally, it also provides a basis for the next steps in the theory development work in WP3. [extract from the Introduction].
Original languageEnglish
PublisherThe Dutch Research Institute For Transitions
Number of pages101
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

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