Skip to Content
Change lives. Change organizations. Change the world.

Center for
Social Innovation

Center for Social Innovation

Research By Topic

Search Resources:

Research Resources


[photo - Issues on My Mind]

The scholar, diplomat, and businessman discusses America's role in the world.

Resource: News Article
[photo - Ulises1]

One of Mexico's leading businessmen advises a group of artists on their launch of one of the world's first art satellites.

Resource: News Article

Being an innovator is never easy. But tackling the needs of underserved patients and healthcare providers in developing countries can be especially difficult. The idiosyncrasies of the healthcare sector, the contextual barriers found in resource-constrained environments, and the already-difficult-to-implement innovation process, make entrepreneurship in global health time consuming, expensive, and risky. 

Resource: News Article
[photo - Happy Money]

In this column I explore the idea that many of the ways we spend money are prosocial acts — and prosocial expenditures may, in fact, make us happier than personal expenditures. Authors Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton discuss evidence for this in their new book Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending. These behavioral scientists show that you can get more out of your money by following several principles — like spending money on others rather than yourself. Moreover, they demonstrate that these principles can be used not only by individuals, but also by companies seeking to create happier employees and more satisfying products.

Resource: News Article
[photo - global investment]

Institutional investors often favor deals close to home — even though it can cost them dearly.

Resource: News Article
[photo - Issues on My Mind]

The scholar, diplomat, and businessman discusses America's role in the world.

Resource: News Article
[photo - Ulises1]

One of Mexico's leading businessmen advises a group of artists on their launch of one of the world's first art satellites.

Resource: News Article

Being an innovator is never easy. But tackling the needs of underserved patients and healthcare providers in developing countries can be especially difficult. The idiosyncrasies of the healthcare sector, the contextual barriers found in resource-constrained environments, and the already-difficult-to-implement innovation process, make entrepreneurship in global health time consuming, expensive, and risky. 

Resource: News Article
[photo - Happy Money]

In this column I explore the idea that many of the ways we spend money are prosocial acts — and prosocial expenditures may, in fact, make us happier than personal expenditures. Authors Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton discuss evidence for this in their new book Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending. These behavioral scientists show that you can get more out of your money by following several principles — like spending money on others rather than yourself. Moreover, they demonstrate that these principles can be used not only by individuals, but also by companies seeking to create happier employees and more satisfying products.

Resource: News Article
[photo - global investment]

Institutional investors often favor deals close to home — even though it can cost them dearly.

Resource: News Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Fall 2011

Thanks to Todd Park, a federal agency has discovered that health care organizations can think more like nimble startups than like lumbering giants.

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Fall 2011

A doctor describes his groundbreaking, transdisciplinary effort to design more cost-effective care models for conditions that drive a large proportion of US health spending.

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Fall 2011

A new Facebook app helps incoming freshmen connect—but within the closed community of their college.

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Fall 2011

Nuru International identifies proven poverty-reduction programs and aims to take them to scale.

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Fall 2011

The Peer Water Exchange manages diverse solutions and resources to fight the global water crisis.

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article

The author uses the case of the Swine Flu to illustrate why non-global organizations matter. In a recent Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, David Brooks compared the global response versus localized response to the outbreak. This comparison, and context, is a great example of why local (read: non-global) organizations are still key in social change work, and why we need to be building stronger networks for data and information sharing.

Resource: Blog Post

By focusing and improving how they treat their donors, nonprofits will find a higher giving retention rate. Fundraising is a critical part of a nonprofit’s business, and charities need to move beyond business as usual, stop treating givers as automated teller machines, and recognize that a worthy mission and success in addressing social problems are not enough to attract and retain givers.

Resource: Blog Post

Rosetta Thurman interviews Lindsey McDougle, a doctoral student at the University of San Diego pursuing a degree in Leadership Studies with a specialization in Nonprofit and Philanthropic Studies. McDougle discusses what she has learned from her consulting work in the nonprofit sector: just like in the for-profit sector, leadership, strategy, and accountability are elements that all organizations, regardless of sectoral affiliation, must value. Nonprofit organizations often provide the services and goods to those most in need. Without effective leadership, deliberate strategy, and sound accountability, nonprofits run the risk of not only damaging public image of the sector, but also of letting down those who most rely on, and need, their services.

Resource: Blog Post

Grassroots nonprofits get top votes for best environmental nonprofits, according to GreatNonprofits’ 2009 Green Choice Awards.  The contest, held during Earth Month in April, asked people to submit reviews and ratings about environmental nonprofits.  The results provide surprising insights into the kinds of organizations that are considered effective by volunteers, donors and stakeholders.

Resource: Blog Post

We must actively withhold support when we see the government acting in a way counter to our ideals and its own. Those of us who supported the President’s election because we share his basic principles and values should express that support by remaining independent and criticizing when necessary, rather than by becoming supplicants to or apologists for the people we put in office.  That’s an idea relevant to each and all of us as citizens.

Resource: Blog Post
Video/Audio : All | Audio | Video
[photo - Ma Jun]

Environmental sustainability is advanced in China by publishing pollution violations in an online open source database. In this audio lecture, Ma Jun, Director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, describes the positive results achieved through the China Water Pollution Map, which provides each supplier’s detailed pollution data. At the Stanford Global Supply Chain Management Forum, Jun describes how a group of NGOs made tangible gains toward environmental sustainability by motivating corporate social responsibility.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Jill Boughton]

A proven way to environmental sustainability is demonstrated through the “Waste to Worth” program at Procter & Gamble (P&G). In this audio lecture, Jill Boughton, Associate Research and Development Director at P&G, shares P&G’s long term vision of getting to zero waste in landfills in emerging markets. At the Stanford Global Supply Chain Management Forum, Boughton describes practical steps toward eliminating waste going to landfills, bringing us closer to achieving environmental sustainability through corporate social responsibility.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Towera Jalakasi]

Towera Jalakasi is an entrepreneur in every sense of the word. Despite her success, she still faces an uphill battle as a female entrepreneur in Africa, where the glass ceiling has yet to give way. In a business environment where women are constantly questioned on their ability to lead and have difficulty accessing traditional funding sources, Towera is a beacon of hope and a confident leader articulating a vision of success. In this Social Disruptor podcast, Towera speaks with Ned Breslin about what it takes to be a successful and innovative entrepreneur in Africa.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Arup SenGupta]

How do you turn a poisonous crisis into a social enterprise? In this university podcast, Lehigh University professor Arup SenGupta talks about his innovative work to remove arsenic from drinking water in South and Southeast Asia, and beyond. SenGupta won the Intel Environment Award at the 2012 Tech Awards.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Lesley Marincola]

In East Africa, 80% of the population lives off the grid and often has to use kerosene fuel for lighting. Lesley Marincola, CEO of Angaza Design, argues that the high retail prices of energy and electric products in developing markets are to blame. In this audio interview, Marincola talks with Stanford Center for Social Innovation correspondent Sheela Sethuraman about how Angaza’s extreme affordability model helps tackle energy poverty in emerging markets.

Resource: Audio
[Video-A Behavioral Science Perspective on Why People Vote]

The investigation into what messaging motivates people to vote and the effectiveness of facilitating a voting plan during a presidential election.

Resource: Video
[Video-The Effectiveness of Message Framing to Influence Behavior]

Most observers agree that human consumption is on a crash course with the environment. Although recycling programs have been implemented in many cities around the world, people often do not participate as often as they could. This research examines the effectiveness of messages that highlight the negative consequences of not recycling (loss frames) versus those that emphasize the positive consequences of recycling (gain frames) in influencing people's behavior.

Resource: Video
[Video-Using People's Irrationality To Do Good]

Identifying effective obesity treatment is both a clinical challenge and a public health priority. Can monetary incentives stimulate weight loss? Leslie John presents a study that examines different economic incentives for weight loss during a 16 week intervention.

Resource: Video
[Video-Bill Gates Says Foreign Aid is Threatened, but Big Ideas Can Turn the Tide]

Just off a plane from Africa, Bill Gates visits Stanford to talk about innovation, but not the software kind. Scientists and engineers, he said, need to focus on products that help improve the lives of the world's poor even though the market directs people to help the wealthiest.

Resource: Video
[Video-Rethinking Learning with Salman Khan]

The Mastery in Communication Initiative and the Stanford GSB Education Club hosted Salman Khan, who spoke about the history and evolution of the Khan Academy and how it is reshaping the way people learn today.

Resource: Video
[photo - John Kenyon]

From the Stanford Social Innovation Review’s Nonprofit Management Institute, Kenyon explains how the intersection of mobile, social, and technology is changing nonprofits. As technology becomes increasingly mobile, intimacy with technology has increased; how can we be more effective in outreach without invading personal spaces?

Resource: Audio
[photo - Doug Hattaway]

Aspirational communication requires an exciting goal, motivational language, and an urgent call to action. In this audio lecture, Doug Hattaway, president of Hattaway Communications, discusses strategies for shaping an organization’s message to maximize its impact, emphasizing simple, people-centered communication techniques.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Daniel Spitzer]

Operating a successful social enterprise requires providing meaningful economic value to people. In this audio lecture, Daniel Spitzer, founder of Mountain Hazelnuts, describes his experience creating supply chain value to develop a hazelnut farming social enterprise in Bhutan. Spitzer details how he enhances supply chains through corporate citizenship, and leverages data captured from Android phones. Spitzer describes why there is nothing is more important than people in operating a profitable business through corporate social responsibility.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Rodney Mullen]

Is innovation something new, or is it built from fragments of experience that grow to become something greater? Skateboard legend Rodney Mullen is an innovator of tricks. To this day, every new skateboard trick can be attributed to Rodney’s early creations. Like most social entrepreneurs, Rodney developed something that took on a life of its own, and he found himself struggling to reconnect with the joy he originally found. Ned Breslin and Rodney discuss the struggles of being an innovator and how creativity doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Instead, it is a collection of experiences, teachings, and learning that come from the simple act of listening.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Dara O'Rourke]

Social innovations in the supply chain have the potential for making an impact on a large scale. In this panel discussion, experts describe innovations that are benefiting society and delivering economic value, including responsible e-waste recycling efforts that generate revenue, innovative methods to end child labor in the carpet industry, and more.

Resource: Audio
Case Studies : All | Academic Cases

Commissioned by KaBOOM! and authored by Katherine Fulton and alumna Heather McLeod Grant of the Monitor Institute, this case study looks at the challenges KaBOOM! faced and lessons the organization learned while pioneering an online strategy to scale its impact. This strategy involves giving away the nonprofit model online for free to empower others to act on KaBoom's behalf.

Resource: Practitioner Case
[photo - Gradian]

After observing too many unnecessary injuries and deaths caused by surgeries that were interrupted or canceled due to the unavailability of anesthesia, Dr. Paul Fenton designed a device called the Universal Anaesthesia Machine (UAM) that could deliver safe, reliable anesthesia even in the midst of a power outage. Unfortunately, Fenton was unable to convince investors to provide funding so he could further develop his innovation. 

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Gradian]

After observing too many unnecessary injuries and deaths caused by surgeries that were interrupted or canceled due to the unavailability of anesthesia, Dr. Paul Fenton designed a devices called the Universal Anesthesia Machine (UAM) that could deliver safe, reliable anesthesia even in the midst of a power outage. On of Gradian Health System's early challenges was determining how to position and market the UAM to four distinct but interconnected stakeholder groups. They were able to  to get off the ground mostly through referrals, but Gradian did not consider this to be a sustainable approach. The cast study examines how Gradian developed a comprehensive marketing strategy for stimulating UAM adoption. 

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Impact Review]

 

While enrolled in a course focused on entrepreneurship, a team of Stanford students set out to create a platform for developing-world healthcare providers that would facilitate improved information sharing bout high-impact, affordable solutions in the material and infant health space. The result was Impact Review, an online knowledge-base. When the team members graduated from Stanford, they had to determine what was next for Impact Review. This mini-case study describes how the Impact Review team explored its options and the solution it developed to ensure the sustainability of the technology. 

 

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Jesper B. Sorensen]

Mobius Motors manufactures and sells low-cost cars in the Kenyan market. The company strives to make the cars such that they are affordable, yet still perform well on Africa’s generally poor road networks. The company has attracted a lot of attention from development and venture financiers, and has ambitious plans to expand throughout the African continent. However, Mobius’s fleet of vehicle is still currently very small, and the company faces many strategic challenges on both the demand and the supply side of the business. 

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Phoenix]

Phoenix Medical Systems was founded to manufacture an incubator designed specifically to address the needs of low-resource healthcare providers in India. Initially its founder, who also designed the device, tried selling his incubator through the few medical equipment, but found relative to the simple medical products, these companies found the incubator technically complex. Distributors' sales were willing to represent the product but did not understand how it worked. This case study looks at how Phoenix built its own direct sales force to address the problem.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Jesper B. Sorensen]

Based in Nairobi, Kenya, EcoPost manufactures construction posts out of the thousands of tons of plastic waste produced daily by the city. The posts, which are manufactured using second-hand industrial equipment, are frequently used to build fences, park benches, and other objects. Because lumber is very scarce in Kenya, and subject to theft and termite damage, the posts sell very well, and the company has trouble keeping up with demand. The company’s directors are seeking financing to purchase new equipment and scale and diversify their production. 

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Charles Holloway]

Venture capitalist Atul Kapadia was inclined to provide seed funding for Sujeet Kumar and Michael Sinkula to found Envia Systems, a lithium-ion battery company. Admittedly, Envia was little more than the founders’ vision of an affordable electric vehicle and the potential of playing in a very large market. But for Kapadia, it was precisely these two key ingredients that made Envia attractive and akin to other early-stage investments he had made at Bay Partners.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Brilliance]

Team members at D-Rev - a U.S. nonprofit technology company with the mission to improve the health and incomes of people living on less than $4 per day - became interested in the problem of infant jaundice.  D-Rev confirmed that jaundice was a problem in rural areas where equipment to treat the condition was virtually nonexistent. To address this issue, the D-Rev team created a prototype phototherapy solution for  jaundice treatment product called Brilliance. This mini-case study examines D-Rev's strategy and approach to raise funds for a market-ready product. 

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Brilliance]

 

When team members at D-Rev — a U.S. nonprofit technology company — became interested in the problem of infant jaundice, they initiated a detailed assessment of the phototherapy landscapes in India and Nigeria and created a prototype for a jaundice treatment product called Brilliance. When D-Rev was ready to start thinking about taking Brilliance to market, the team carefully evaluated its own competencies and concluded that the organization’s strengths were not in product manufacturing or after-sales services and believed it should enter into a licensing agreement to accelerate Brilliance’s market penetration. The challenge was to find the right partner and structure the partnership deal effectively to ensure that D-Rev’s social impact goals would be achieved. This mini-case study explores how D-Rev identified its partner and crafted an agreement to motivate desired behavior.

 

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - EMW]

The East Meets West Foundation (EMW) is an international development agency with the mission to transform the health, education, and communities of disadvantaged people in Asia. Through its Breath of Life (BOL) program, EMW provides a complete package of custom-made, low-cost medical equipment to neonatal care providers. As EMW expanded BOL in Asia, it recognized the need to develop more effective therapy for infant jaundice. EMW was interest in an infant phototherapy solution, but they did not have the design capabilities needed to develop the product and neither did its existing parters. This case study reveals how EMW addressed challenges of positioning for continued growth. 

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - PSI]

Population Services International (PSI) was founded in 1970 as a nonprofit organization focused on improving reproductive health in developing countries using commercial marketing strategies. Over the years, PSI broadened its mission to address family planning, child and maternal health, and HIV and AIDS prevention, screening, and treatment.  PSI opened an office in Lesotho and in 2010, a donor provided PSI/Lesotho with “a warehouse full” of female condoms (FCs) that the organization could use to help young women in the area protect themselves from HIV/AIDS. The challenge for the team was to figure out how to effectively distribute and promote the FCs since early versions of the female condom were notoriously unpopular.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - William Meehan III]

 

In 2007 a group of eight friends wanted to give. With so many charities out there, the friends wanted dot know which ones were doing the most good. This case covered the history of GiveWEll—a nonprofit dedicated to bringing greater and transparency to the world of philanthropy—and the evolution of its research methodology and philosophy for identifying outstanding charities.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Inspire]

Globally, pneumonia kills more children than any other illness. In developed countries, pneumonia and other acute respiratory conditions are treated via mechanical ventilators. In resource-constrained settings, however, ventilators are often not available because of their high cost. An approach has been used successfully, although not considered standard of care, is bubble continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). CPAPs are low-cost and effective, but require oxygen tanks, which are expensive to transport to rural regions. in 2011, a team of Stanford students set out to design a  machine that would create the pressurized air of bubble CPAP without the cost, burden, and safety concerns with using oxygen tanks. This case explores the factors that the Inspire team members evaluated in deciding whether or not to take their prototype into development. 

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Respira]

To Help Address the burden of childhood asthma in developing countries, Respira Design created an asthma spacer that was produced from a single sheet of paper. The device could ship and store flat and then be transformed into a usable spacer through a series of cuts and folds. However, as a medical device, it was necessary to test the extent to which it impacted the delivery of medication and how many uses each spacer could sustain. The team also needed to study the circumstances in which the device would perform successfully. This case examines how Respira address these issues.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - William Meehan III]

This case described the activities of Citadel Capital, a Cairo-based Emerging Markets Private Equity Fund, in Egypt during the tumultuous political environment following the Arab Spring and the country’s first democratic elections. The case focuses in particular on Citadel’s approach to investment exits and liquidation in order to realize value for investors.

Resource: Academic Case
Research Papers : All

In an interview, former Stanford University Provost Condoleezza Rice discusses her experiences as Secretary of State and as an African-American woman in government during the Bush administration.

Resource: Research Paper

What happens when restaurants are required to post calorie counts alongside food and beverage offerings? Average calories per transaction falls by 6 percent, researchers find.

Resource: Research Paper

Most states and cities offer defined benefit pension plans to their employees, but is every defined benefit plan the same? A team of researchers find that in fact the replacement ratios of these plans vary greatly across jurisdictions. They compare the defined benefit pensions of the public sector with the defined contribution pensions of the private sector to draw conclusions about the design of public sector plans.

Resource: Research Paper

What elements led to the results of the 2010 mid-term congressional elections in the U.S. and what may they portend for the nation?

Resource: Research Paper

Julie Miller, Editor in Chief of the magazine Managed Healthcare Executive, interviews Professor Alain Enthoven on a recently instated healthcare reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

Resource: Research Paper
Courses : All
[photo - Jeffrey Pfeffer]

Understanding the processes of power and influence in organizations is critical for leaders. This course aims to teach students how to to diagnose and analyze power and politics in organizational situations, show students how to exercise power effectively, and help students come to terms with the inherent dilemmas and choices involved in developing and exercising influence.

Resource: MBA Course
[photo - Charles O'Reilly]

This course examines the concept of principled leadership and the various ways leaders try to institutionalize values within their organizations. Through assigned readings, interactive lectures with visiting executives, and weekly small group discussions, students learn how leaders implement their principles, and reflect on their own values and career aspirations.

Resource: MBA Course
[photo - Sridhar Narayanan]

This course addresses numerous questions about how to initiate and sustain green marketing. It also explores what technological and marketing innovations are likely to arise in the future.

Resource: MBA Course
[photo - Renee Bowen]

This course gives students an understanding of international trade economics, and analyzes the political processes by which international trade policy is determined. It combines lecture and mini-case studies.

Resource: MBA Course
[photo - Daniel Kessler]

The purpose of this class is to provide students with the economic tools and the institutional and legal background to understand how markets for health care products and services work. The class utilizes case studies, lectures, and visits from individuals in the industry.

Resource: MBA Course
Innovators : All

Jenny Shilling Stein reflects on lessons learned as executive director of the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, and discusses how leadership and vision for scale are key ingredients for success in tackling some of the world’s toughest problems.

Resource: Alumni

Jack shares his unexpected adventures on Kangaroo Island, Australia, and how his discovery in habitat restoration has become an international example.

Resource: Alumni

"Gib" shares his passion for America’s Great Plains and the possibility and promise of creating a prairie wildlife reserve of three million acres, and the hope it represents.

Resource: Alumni

Eric shares lessons learned through his work at Opportunity Fund deploying over $200 million into California’s communities to create jobs and strengthen local economies.

Resource: Alumni

Math and science have always excited Diego Fonstad, and he hopes that the multimedia tools he is capturing on Zombie-Cat.org will help today’s teachers bring lessons to life.

Resource: Alumni
[photo - David Darg]

Bryn Mooser and David Darg have been on the front lines to witness war, poverty, and natural disasters. Frustrated with the traditional media’s inflexibility in providing actionable context around the news, they created a social online hub that does. RYOT connects an action with each news story so people can get involved in the world’s most pressing matters. Host Ned Breslin speaks with the RYOT founders about their plans to disrupt traditional media by allowing people to “Become the News.”

Resource: Audio
[photo - Jake Harriman]

Jake Harriman,'08, explains how rejecting conventional wisdom about financing a nonprofit helped him turn his vision into a real intervention.

Resource: News Article
[photo - John Kenyon]

From the Stanford Social Innovation Review’s Nonprofit Management Institute, Kenyon explains how the intersection of mobile, social, and technology is changing nonprofits. As technology becomes increasingly mobile, intimacy with technology has increased; how can we be more effective in outreach without invading personal spaces?

Resource: Audio
[photo - Doug Hattaway]

Aspirational communication requires an exciting goal, motivational language, and an urgent call to action. In this audio lecture, Doug Hattaway, president of Hattaway Communications, discusses strategies for shaping an organization’s message to maximize its impact, emphasizing simple, people-centered communication techniques.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Daniel Spitzer]

Operating a successful social enterprise requires providing meaningful economic value to people. In this audio lecture, Daniel Spitzer, founder of Mountain Hazelnuts, describes his experience creating supply chain value to develop a hazelnut farming social enterprise in Bhutan. Spitzer details how he enhances supply chains through corporate citizenship, and leverages data captured from Android phones. Spitzer describes why there is nothing is more important than people in operating a profitable business through corporate social responsibility.

Resource: Audio
Corner