Social Innovation Speaker Series: Rodrigo Canales

On November 10, Rodrigo Canales, Associate Professor at Boston University, presented some of his most recent work.

Title: Evidence in Practice: How Structural and Programmatic Scaffolds Enable Collaboration in International Development

Abstract: This inductive study of eight international development interventions across four countries analyzes the mechanisms that enable effective integration of evidence in practice, as an enduring challenge of learning and collaboration across occupational and organizational boundaries. We identify how a set of critical, complementary structural and programmatic scaffolding practices, jointly provided a shared architecture for actors across organizations and communities of practice to collaborate and learn within the uncertainty and complexity inherent in the international development context. Scaffolding practices offered modular, temporary counter-balancing stabilizing and extending support that enabled the unusual and counter normative behaviors and mindsets required for continuous learning and adaptive coordination. Through 226 in-depth interviews with a range of international development experts, including practitioners engaged in eight matched interventions in India, Mexico, South Africa, and Ghana, we identified and analyzed the mechanisms that explain the varying degrees of effectiveness with which rigorous evidence was integrated in each case. Our findings have implications for interorganizational innovation and collaboration under conditions of complexity and uncertainty, as well as the dynamic interactions between individuals, their organizations, and their communities of practice when attempting to bring about systemic change.

Rodrigo is faculty director of Questrom’s Social Impact Program. Before, he was Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Yale School of Management, where he taught the Innovator Perspective. He sits in the advisory board of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT; he spent the 2014-2015 academic year advising the Mexican government on the US-Mexico bilateral relationship; and sits in the Board of Trustees of the Nature Conservancy.

He was hosted by the Sol Price Center for Social Innovation, as part of PINS (Philanthropy, Innovation and Nonprofit Seminar).

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