Introduction to Institutional Entrepreneurship

Social innovation requires a variety of actors, working together or separately, to have impact at a system level. In addition to social entrepreneurs, institutional entrepreneurs are critically important. They are individuals who actively work to change the broader social system – the political, economic, legal or cultural arenas. They are highly skilled at identifying and connecting to opportunities that help a particular social innovation to flourish.

Institutional entrepreneurs notice rhythms and patterns in systems. They usually have deep understanding and trusted relationships that allow them to connect really effectively with powerful champions, political opportunities or unexpected resources. In this way, they gain “system sight” – and they significantly make a difference in helping innovative strategies reach full potential.