Achieving Grassroots Innovation Through Multi-Lateral Collaborations: Evidence from the Field

Guzmán, Silvia Buitrago, and Pedro Reynolds-Cuellar. "Achieving grassroots innovation through multi-lateral collaborations: evidence from the field." (2020).


Collaborations with academia, international organizations, governments and civic society are both an opportunity and a challenge for grassroots associations to achieve their mission while maintaining their values and philosophy. Little research has been done on programs leveraging these collaborations to increase capacity for community-based, peer-production and innovation in economically constrained environments. This article presents the case study of a grassroots organization, C-Innova, in its leading role as organizer of two international design summits hosted in Colombia in 2015 and 2016. The goal of these summits focuses on increasing participants’ understanding of design and technical skills, while fostering aspects of self-fulfillment and psychological needs. These experiences attempt to support and catalyze the emergence of local innovation initiatives. Both summits were organized and implemented through partnerships with local government, cooperation agencies, universities both local and international and members of civic society. We analyze the success of these collaborations across three dimensions: (1) program's objectives, (2) systemic changes across partners as a result of these partnerships and (3) structural improvements and challenges for C-Innova. We find significant changes across all dimensions, suggesting this as a viable model for grassroots organizations to achieve their goals without significantly compromising their core values and beliefs.

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