Technology and Innovation for Social Change: An Introduction
Tension exists between technologists and social thinkers because of the impact technology and innovation has on social values and the norms which are often viewed as damaging the cultural fabric of a nation or society. Global business environment being the context in which implementation of technology and innovation takes place is widely accepted as the major reason for such conflicts. The current debate in India for and against the globalised and liberalised economic policies is the best case to cite. Social values and norms are dynamic constructs of economic development and social entrepreneurs are the actors to drive such changes. Though the outlook of economic development must be modern and contemporary, it should address all-round growth and well-being in the society. Growth is expected to be inclusive in nature, without any bias towards particular socio-economic groups. However, data on the development and growth trajectories of many developing countries reveal undue favours to some specific groups, which have resulted into some kind of divide. The divide between rich and poor, rural and urban, educated and uneducated, upper and lower castes, indigenous and modern societies and technologically forward and backward societies are common in these countries. At times, high cost of technological innovation, access and ease of adoption of technologies are considered to be the chief reasons for such non-inclusion. Information technology being the most adopted and accepted technologies is at the core of this debate which on other hand has also affected the major changes in social and political systems in many countries in the recent past. Also many other product and process technologies have affected favourably or otherwise the skill, livelihood and social norms in specific regions. This almost necessitates a fresh discourse, beyond anti-globalisation debates and bottom-of-pyramid market phenomenon. This volume is one such first attempt to identify the relevant areas of new search, and research into them without labelling social entrepreneurs, the social change agents, as heroic figures. In developing countries, social entrepreneurs have already established innovative and inclusive methods and systems such as micro-finance to impact social change. They are trained within the existing institutional set-up to practice social entrepreneurship processes; innovative educational models are developed for such focused training. These social entrepreneurs design systems and processes for high social impact while adapting in countries, societies or communities and adjusting to the specific local cultural norms or traditions or vocations. In this volume, an attempt has been made to compile many independent research cases by the authors from across the globe. India, Mexico, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and other African countries are selected as contexts to report on multiple aspects of social change.