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Center for Social Innovation

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The long-term strength of our nation relies on the level of commitment we have toward innovation. Influx of talent, new mindset and new network technologies are the new convergence of innovation. President Obama must broaden the focus across and among the private, public, and nonprofit sectors—to seek and spark the most promising innovations whether they come from commercial or social entrepreneurs, executives or line workers, community leaders, public servants, researchers, or citizens who don’t fit into any of these categories.

Resource: Blog Post

Philanthropic and social capital markets are emerging, but they need issuers, investors and intermediaries to function. There is a range of activity and structure on both sides-–from nonprofit organizations to social businesses on the sell side and donors to investors on the buy side. Put together the full spectrum and you get nonprofits and grants on one end and social businesses and investors at the other end. Where it gets tricky is in the calculation of the social or environmental return. How to calculate the extent of these impacts is a thorny problem no matter where on the financial spectrum you participate.

Resource: Blog Post

An interview with Gavin Glabaugh, long-time IT guru at the Charles Stuart Mott Foundation, gives incite on where nonprofits have been and where we’re going in terms of using technology.

Resource: Blog Post

Foundations can do much more to address the economic crisis and the human toll it is taking. Instead of hoarding their assets so they can perpetuate their wealth and their power, foundation boards should be voting to pay out more in assets and better fulfilling their governance role by taking a more active role as shareholders. Foundations should be putting all their assets, including those they pay out and those they invest in the capital markets, to more productive use to address the critical and escalating social and global problems we face.

Resource: Blog Post
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Spring 2009

Our economy is in bad shape and will only get worse. So what can fundraisers do to minimize the impact of this difficult period on our organizations, and at the same time maximize income? —By Mal Warwick

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
[photo - New Technology]

For a d.School course called “Design for Extreme Affordability,” Jane Chen and three of her classmates developed a low-cost baby incubator tailored to the needs of the developing world. That incubator—a reusable heating pouch—became the Embrace Infant Warmer, and ultimately launched Embrace and Embrace Innovations, a joint social enterprise promoting child and maternal health across the globe. 

Resource: News Article
[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 - What Makes a Happy vs. Meaningful Life?]

Professor Frank Flynn looks at the difference between “happiness” and “meaning” in life –– and how these two concepts relate to being prosocial.

Resource: News Article
[photo - Businesses Impact Social Policy]

New research explores the impact of gay-owned businesses on anti-discrimination laws.

Resource: News Article
[photo - Joshua Rauh]

The symposium was the culmination of massive open online course about retirement and pensions.

Resource: News Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Winter 2007

The MacArthur “genius” prize winner creates drugs for the developing world.

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Winter 2007

One of the most important, but often overlooked, ways that a nonprofit can improve its effectiveness is to develop a strong brand. Not only does a distinctive brand personality help a nonprofit raise its visibility among the general public, but it also develops deeper ties with donors, partners, and other stakeholders. By Adrian Sargeant & John B. Ford

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Winter 2007

International development organizations spend lots of money and effort building the capacity of small businesses. Yet they often fail to ask whether people want the businesses’ goods and services. As these stories from Peru show, successful programs start with real buyers who are willing to buy real products. By James T. Riordan

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Winter 2007

Most people think of networking as a means for advancing their own self-interest. But successful social innovators take a different tack, nurturing close ties between members and infusing their networks with a common set of values. As a result, their networks power both personal transformations and large-scale social changes. By Joel M. Podolny

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Winter 2007

Nonprofits aren’t as nice to their employees as you might think. By Mal Warwick

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article

Mario Morino, chairman of Venture Philanthropy Partners, opines that nothing is more important for the long-term strength of our nation than driving greater levels of innovation across and between all sectors of our economy—for-profit, nonprofit, and public.  Expounding on an colleague's anecdote that innovation is like a coral reef, Morino connects the metaphor to the dot.com boom in Silicon Valley as an example of a healthy innovation ecosystem.  The solution for long-term social and economic success in America lies in a national strategy of combined efforts across all regions, disciplines and walks of life—similar to the combined efforts needed to create a coral reef.

Resource: Blog Post

Many nonprofits may be reluctant to play an advocacy role because they believe they lack the resources or know-how, or because they fear they might put their foundation, corporate or public funding at risk.  But advocacy work can make a big difference in shaping the public policies that affect nonprofits and their clients.  Recent research shows investment in nonprofit advocacy and community organizing yields a big return in benefits for underrepresented constituencies.

Resource: Blog Post

Fundraising professionals play instrumental roles at nonprofit organizations but get less pay and support than they need and deserve.  The way a charity’s fundraising staff treats donors is more important than any other factor in determining whether givers give to a particular charity, according to Adrian Sargeant, Robert F. Hartsook Professor of Fundraising at the Center on Philanthropy.  So if they expect to be more successful in their fundraising, nonprofits will need to increase their investment in fundraising, particularly in paying and supporting the work of their fundraisers and closing the pay gap between men and women.

Resource: Blog Post

“For social benefit organizations to truly “work” we all need to be part of the design, the process, the success.” -Hildy Gottlieb

Resource: Blog Post

“Merge Minnesota: Nonprofit Merger as an Opportunity for Survival and Growth” published by MAP for Nonprofits proves a useful source of information about the merging process of nonprofits. 

Resource: Blog Post
Video/Audio : All | Audio | Video
[photo - Gail Neudorf]

Speaking at the Stanford Effective Disruption Management Seminar, Gail Neudorf talks in this audio lecture about some of the challenges and issues faced by humanitarian disaster relief operations.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Adele Martz]

Adele Martz explains in this audio lecture how risk management puts GM at a competitive advantage to an audience of disaster relief operation actors gathered for the Stanford Effective Disruption Management Seminar.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Randy Martin]

Randy Martin has been in the business of humanitarian disaster relief for 25 years. In this audio lecture recorded at the Stanford Effective Disruption Management Seminar, Martin shares some of the lessons he has learned on the front lines and investigates possible collaborations across sectors to enhance disaster relief operations.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Leslie Lamb]

In this audio lecture, Leslie Lamb shares her company's approach to risk management with some of the main actors in humanitarian disaster relief operations gathered at the Stanford Effective Disruption Management Seminar.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Zach Warren]

In 2005, marathoner, juggler, and unicyclist Zach Warren traveled to Afghanistan to help children recover from the traumas of war, as part of the Afghan Mobile Mini Circus for Children. In this audio interview, Warren shares with Globeshakers host Tim Zak his observations about what it takes to rebuild an entire country.

Resource: Audio
[Video-Does Impact Investing Really Have Impact?]

Impact investing: is it actually investing? Or is it venture philanthropy by another name?

Resource: Video
[Video-Leadership in the War Against Extreme Poverty]

Stanford GSB alum ('08) founded Nuru International to maximize local leadership to drive sustainable change.

Resource: Video
[Video-Unleashing Green Chemistry: A Societal Need and Business Opportunity]

A panel on the the importance of mainstreaming and investing in green chemistry for the future of energy and the environment.

Resource: Video
[Video-Jane Chen: Crazy Enough to Change the World?]

Jane Chen (MBA '08) shares her journey to success in tackling one of the world's pressing issues -- low birth rates of premature babies around the world.

Resource: Video
[Video-Robert Sutton: Scaling Up Excellence]

Professor Sutton discusses a challenge that determines every organization’s success: scaling up farther, faster, and more effectively as a program or an organization creates a larger footprint.

Resource: Video
[photo - Peter Eigen]

How do we look after the global public good in a society where globalized businesses aren't subject to international control? In this audio lecture, Peter Eigen explains civil society organizations' role in creating necessary structures and rules to fill the gaps in current global governance. Suggesting cooperation between academic, business, and social actors, Eigen uses Transparency International's policies as examples in the fight against corruption and environmental abuse.

Resource: Audio
[photo - William Ryan]

Addressing a huge nonprofit management challenge -- boards' rampant and growing disengagement -- consultant William Ryan suggests in this University podcast a new framework that will enhance efficiency in nonprofit governance. Speaking at the 2006 Nonprofit Management Institute at Stanford University, Ryan demonstrates how the "governance as leadership" approach sheds new light on the traditional fiduciary and strategic work of the board, and introduces a critical third dimension of effective trusteeship: generative governance.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Fazle H. Abed]

Solving the world's big problems takes large-scale solutions, says Fazle H. Abed, founder of Building Resources Across Communities in Bangladesh. In this audio lecture, Abed outlines the development and market perspectives that have enabled his organization to expand and meet his country's needs in key areas, including microfinance, agriculture, and education.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Jeffrey Pfeffer]

In nonprofit management, as in business, organizations should make decisions based on facts as well as the careful evaluation of their specific situation. So argues Stanford Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer in this University podcast. Pfeffer says that few organizations actually do it, but that those that do trump the competition. Speaking at the 2006 Nonprofit Management Institute at Stanford, Pfeffer demonstrates the benefits of evidence-based management.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Bill Drayton]

Ashoka's founder, Bill Drayton, believes that everyone can be a changemaker. In this audio lecture, he reflects on many of the early influences that helped him understand how to advance true social progress. From these beginnings, he traces his own path in public service, and describes the founding of Ashoka, which has grown into a flourishing network of social entrepreneurs who can serve as role models for further progress in promoting social justice around the globe.

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

This case provides an overview of the nonprofit organization PATH and its Safe Water Project—a five-year effort launched in late 2006 with $17 million in funding from the global development unit of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Stefanos Zenios]

This case provides an overview of the nonprofit organization PATH and its Safe Water Project—a five-year effort launched in late 2006 with $17 million in funding from the global development unit of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. One of the team’s primary objectives was to investigate sales and distribution challenges in this space. By conducting a portfolio of field-based pilots, the team hoped to test different models for improving customer access to these safe water products in an effort to identify scalable, sustainable, and replicable solutions. Although specific results varied across the pilots, which spanned India, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Kenya, they collectively gave rise to series of important sales and distribution insights.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Stefanos Zenios]

This case provides an overview of the nonprofit organization PATH and its Safe Water Project. One of the key objectives of this effort was to explore how the private sector could help make HWTS products more affordable. By conducting a portfolio of field-based pilots in collaboration with commercial partners, the PATH team sought to better understand the effect of different pricing, consumer financing, and subsidy models on demand within low-income population in developing countries. 

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Stefanos Zenios]

This case provides an overview of the nonprofit organization PATH and its Safe Water Project—a five-year effort launched in late 2006 with $17 million in funding from the global development unit of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The purpose of the grant was to evaluate to what extent market-based approaches could help accelerate the widespread adoption and sustained use of household water treatment and safe storage products by low-income populations.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Laura Arrillaga]

Arrillaga created Silicon Valley Social Venture ("SV2") in partnership with Community Foundation Silicon Valley (“CFSV”), a nationally recognized public foundation that had experience working with individual donors and had established credibility within the philanthropic field. Arrillaga formed SV2 as a donor-advised fund to ensure that CFSV staff would help guide SV2 partners leverage their expertise and funding to select high-performing community organizations, thus generating the greatest social impact. 

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Hau Lee]

Before opening its first store in India in 1996, McDonald’s spent six years building its supply chain. During that time, the company worked to successfully source as many ingredients as possible from India. However, French fries (“MacFries”) were a particularly tough product to source locally.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Glenn Carroll]

The case discusses Nike’s sustainability and labor practices from 1998 to 2013, focusing on the successful steps Nike took up and down the supply chain and in its headquarters to make its products and processes more environmentally friendly, and the challenges and complexities it was still facing in its efforts to improve labor conditions.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - PATH]

In late 2006, the PATH Safe Water Project received a $17 million grant form the global development unit of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Its purpose was to evaluate how market-based approaches could help accelerate the widespread adoption and sustained use of household water treatment and safe storage (HWTS) products among the world's poor. One key factor to consider in constructing its pilot studies was the affordability of HWTS products. This case study describes PATH's efforts to use consumer financing as a mechanism for making HWTS produce and supplies more accessible to its target market. 

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - CycleBeads]

To help address the issue of unplanned pregnancy and maternal mortality in the developing world, researches at the University of Georgetown's Institute for Reproductive Health (IRH) recognized the need for a intuitive, natural contraception method that could meet the needs of families that chose not to use medical or surgical alternatives. IRH developed the Standard Days Method (SDM), a family planning system, and CycleBeads. Despite some reservations related to traditional values, IRH seized the opportunity to roll out sDM and CycleBeads in Mali, West Africa. Unfortunately, the initial launch did not go well and had trouble establishing effective delivery and support for the product. This case looks at how IRH adapted its approach to facilitate more effective implementation of CycleBeads across Mali. 

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - d.light]

d.light design is a for-profit social enterprise whose purpose is to create new freedoms for customers without access to reliable power so they can enjoy a brighter future. When members of d.light moved to India to set up distribution of their product, the team quickly discovered would not be as easy as they hoped. They discovered it would be difficult to convince consumers to invest in a d.light product as the market was saturated with low-quality, solar-based lighting products. Distribution posed another challenge. This mini-case study evaluates the strategy d.light adopted to differentiate the company and establish its products as credible and trustworthy to earn the acceptance of consumers and distributors. 

Resource: Academic Case

This case provides an overview of the nonprofit organization PATH and its Safe Water Project—a five-year effort launched in late 2006 with $17 million in funding from the global development unit of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Stefanos Zenios]

This case provides an overview of the nonprofit organization PATH and its Safe Water Project—a five-year effort launched in late 2006 with $17 million in funding from the global development unit of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. One of the team’s primary objectives was to investigate sales and distribution challenges in this space. By conducting a portfolio of field-based pilots, the team hoped to test different models for improving customer access to these safe water products in an effort to identify scalable, sustainable, and replicable solutions. Although specific results varied across the pilots, which spanned India, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Kenya, they collectively gave rise to series of important sales and distribution insights.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Stefanos Zenios]

This case provides an overview of the nonprofit organization PATH and its Safe Water Project. One of the key objectives of this effort was to explore how the private sector could help make HWTS products more affordable. By conducting a portfolio of field-based pilots in collaboration with commercial partners, the PATH team sought to better understand the effect of different pricing, consumer financing, and subsidy models on demand within low-income population in developing countries. 

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Stefanos Zenios]

This case provides an overview of the nonprofit organization PATH and its Safe Water Project—a five-year effort launched in late 2006 with $17 million in funding from the global development unit of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The purpose of the grant was to evaluate to what extent market-based approaches could help accelerate the widespread adoption and sustained use of household water treatment and safe storage products by low-income populations.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Laura Arrillaga]

Arrillaga created Silicon Valley Social Venture ("SV2") in partnership with Community Foundation Silicon Valley (“CFSV”), a nationally recognized public foundation that had experience working with individual donors and had established credibility within the philanthropic field. Arrillaga formed SV2 as a donor-advised fund to ensure that CFSV staff would help guide SV2 partners leverage their expertise and funding to select high-performing community organizations, thus generating the greatest social impact. 

Resource: Academic Case
Research Papers : All
[photo - Ask for help]

How can a certain kind of behavior actually contributes to inequalities? Specifically, do children’s social-class backgrounds affect when and how they seek help in the classroom, thereby teasing out children’s own role in educational stratification? We consider how teachers may use such information to correct these dynamics, and thus contribute to more equal access for all children at school.

Resource: Research Paper
[photo - Flu Shot Reminder on Calendar]

Seasonal influenza leads to >200,000 hospitalizations and >8,000 deaths in the United States each year. The influenza vaccine is widely available at low cost and reduces mortality, morbidity, and healthcare costs. Nevertheless, many of those for whom vaccination is indicated fail to comply with CDC recommendations for vaccination. If low compliance is the result of careful calculations by individuals weighing the costs and benefits of vaccination, it may be difficult and expensive for policymakers and organizational leaders to increase vaccination rates. However, if low compliance is the result of forgetfulness or procrastination, low-cost interventions that use psychological tools may be effective at increasing vaccination rates and improving public health.

Resource: Research Paper
[photo - Collaborative Filtering of Medication Lists]

Evidence suggests that the medication lists of patients are often incomplete and could negatively affect patient outcomes. By predicting drugs the patient could be taking, collaborative filtering can be a valuable tool for reconciling medication lists.

Resource: Research Paper
[photo - Medical Expenses on tax form]

Workers who earn just below the Social Security tax threshold receive a larger tax preference for health insurance than workers who earn just above it.

Resource: Research Paper
[photo - vertical integration & Medicare Reimbursement]

Health care providers may vertically integrate not only to facilitate coordination of care, but also for strategic reasons that may not be in patients’ best interests.

Resource: Research Paper
Courses : All

The two-quarter Elective Course series provides lectures from a diverse group of faculty that expose students to the practical aspects of technology invention and development. The class features a presentation or discussion from one of the guest speakers or faculty. Students work in small project teams in the Biodesign prototyping lab or bench space, collaborating with the fellows of the program.

Resource: MBA Course
[photo - Jennifer Aaker]

The goal of this seminar is to investigate how social technology (e.g., blogs, websites, podcasts, widgets, community groups, social network feeds) can change attitudes and behaviors in ways that cultivate social change. We study the strategies and tactics used by companies and causes that have successfully catalyzed social persuasion.

Resource: MBA Course
[photo - Robert Burgelman]

This seminar helps participants develop strategically informed action plans that are imaginative, inspiring, and workable in highly dynamic environments. Through informed debate and the writing and presentation of position papers, participants evaluate and hone their views on the seminar's critical themes.

Resource: MBA Course
[photo - Rick Aubry]

This course focuses on the efforts of private citizens to create effective responses to social needs and innovative solutions to social problems. It equips students with frameworks and tools that will help them be more effective as a social entrepreneur.

Resource: MBA Course
[photo - William Meehan]

This course surveys strategic, governance, and management issues facing a wide range of nonprofit organizations in an era of venture philanthropy and social entrepreneurship. It introduces students to core managerial issues in the nonprofit sector, such as development/fundraising, investment management, performance management and nonprofit finance.

Resource: MBA Course
Innovators : All
[photo - Kate Surman]

Kate Surman, MBA '04, Administrative Director of Strategic Operations, Stanford Hospital & Clinics, discusses how she has leveraged the Public Management and Social Innovation certificate to take her career into a new direction.

Resource: Alumni
[photo - Farm to Cup - Root Capital Lending]

A grassroots student effort led by Caroline Mullen, MBA ’12, Catha Mullen, MBA ’13, and Monica Lewis, MBA ’12, now has even more impact through a merger with Pachamama Coffee Cooperative.

Resource: Alumni
[photo - Robyn Beavers]

Leading a Social Innovation Study Trip lands Robyn Beavers, MBA '10, in a new industry.

Resource: Alumni
[photo - Jeremy Sokulsky]

Jeremy Sokulsky, MBA '04, President, Environmental Incentives, discusses how he's drawing upon the tools and training he received from the GSB to help make a difference.

Resource: Alumni
[photo - Ashanthi Mathai]

Vision care is something that is practically taken for granted in the United States, but that’s not the case throughout much of the world. Some 300 million around the globe suffer from correctable vision loss, leading, as Ashanthi Mathai, MBA '04, says, “to people accepting their vision impairment and adjusting their lives around it.” The result? A lower quality of life, restricted job options, and even further economic distress.


 

Resource: Alumni

Too often American business and education remain "silos sitting outside of each other, unwilling to recognize, and often casting blame at each other," said James H. Shelton III, MBA/MA '93 and Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement at the U.S. Department of Education, at a recent Stanford event. Yet, a number of Stanford GSB alumni have taken on that challenge and are using their business acumen to help improve public education.

Resource: News Article
[Video-The Future of the Healthcare Sector: John Capek]

At the 2011 GSB Healthcare Summit, John Capek, Executive Vice President of Abbott's Medical Devices business, shares his thoughts on the future of the healthcare sector.

Resource: Video
[Video-Changing Behavior and Changing Policies: BJ Fogg]

At the 2011 GSB Healthcare Summit, Director of the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab BJ Fogg spoke about changing behavior to build new habits.

Resource: Video
[Video-Changing Behavior and Changing Policies: Todd Park]

At the 2011 GSB Healthcare Summit, Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, argued that now is the best time in history to be in the healthcare entrepreneur business.

Resource: Video
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Summer 2011

Under the EPA’s Audit Policy, violators who voluntarily report themselves can get certain penalties reduced or waived if they commit to ongoing self-regulation…. But is that promise any more than window dressing?

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
Corner