Social Innovation and Leadership

What is the role of business in society? How can the tools of business be used to help mission-driven organizations achieve their goals? How can business leaders develop organizations that have a positive impact on their many stakeholders?      

These and other questions arise from a new perspective on organizations that has emerged in the last decade as leaders have tied the “mission” and “purpose” commonly attributed to nonprofit organizations to the tools of business to address social problems. This combination marries creativity, imagination and innovation with goals to create social and economic change. The organizations can be structured as either for-profit businesses or nonprofit organizations. Their leaders are social innovators, seeking new ways of operating to optimize the benefits to stakeholders that include employees and community, as well as owners, in the case of for-profit enterprises.

UIC Liautaud has developed an academic specialization in Social Innovation and Leadership with a series of four courses that prepare students to make positive social contributions in their careers. The courses are:

·         Social Entrepreneurship – Addresses issues that social entrepreneurs have in common with for-profit entrepreneurs, as well as issues unique to social entrepreneurship, such as measuring social benefit, acquiring donated resources, navigating the legal environment and knowing what “success” means in a nonprofit environment.

·         Leading for Impact – Explores the opportunities for leaders to have an impact, identifying main levers and outlining distinct models. Also provides students with an opportunity to gain insight into their own unique strengths as well as their preferred ways of having an impact.

·         Social Marketing – Examines the philosophy, principles, concepts and tools of marketing and how they may be applied by for-profit and not-for-profit organizations to address social concerns such as poverty, health and the environment. 

·         Sustainable Business Management – Aligning the elements of the Triple Bottom Line (profits, people and planet) to improve the sustainability of organizations.  Will focus on identifying opportunities and obstacles and navigating through the external environment to make the most of organizations' assets. 

Liautaud Students
The courses are designed to inform students interested in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors and address many industries. They fit squarely with UIC’s Great Cities Initiative, Liautaud’s mission to train leaders who make a difference in the world, and the school’s particularly socially-aware student population.

Liautaud’s students have been leaders in developing social awareness on campus. They established a chapter of Net Impact in early 2010, which has been remarkably active. They have hosted panel discussions on social entrepreneurship and environmental issues.  They have engaged faculty in leading informal roundtable discussions on related topics. The chapter has visited major corporations to gain insight into their sustainability practices and their commitment to social responsibility. It has also partnered with other student and business organizations on service projects, including doing a Clean the Parks event on Earth Day and selling products for a social entrepreneur creating economic opportunities for women in developing countries.  


        Click here to read full article from the BIZ Magazine.








Keywords:  Social Entrepreneurship, Social Value, Social Innovation, Social Value Creation, Social Innovation & Leadership