Social goals versus business necessity: The nature and determinants of innovation in financial inclusion

Pal Vik, Morven G. McEachern, Joanna Curtis, Kevin Kane, Karl Dayson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study aims to explore the extent to which social innovation is prioritised among a sample of organisations promoting financial inclusion through the provision of affordable credit, advice and financial education. Additionally, we seek to understand the nature of the adopted innovation process and how this is perceived as influencing social change (if at all).

This exploratory study uses a combination of qualitative, semi-structured, face-to-face interviews with 35 managers in 29 different organisations and three focus groups with 16 practitioners and stakeholders.

Innovation processes are in the main, largely incremental as opposed to radical with organisations focusing on process-led innovations. More notably, most organisations found that they often lacked the required social capital capacity, economic and technological resources and the necessary skills to develop, implement and capitalise on innovations, thus limiting the more radical forms of innovations.

To enhance the capacity of smaller organisations promoting financial inclusion, there is significant potential to engage in more open, co-creational projects/partnerships to deliver greater social impact to vulnerable populations.

We contribute to the under-researched literature on social innovation by highlighting the extent to which social innovation is given precedence within the sector promoting financial inclusion. Given the contextual and organisational diversity of the sector, highlighting these behavioural practices and circumstances, enable researchers to theoretically advance social innovation theory further and provide more practice-based guidance for organisations to successfully shape social change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalSocial Business
Early online date5 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023


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