Exploring the impact of design thinking on social enterprise mission-aligned innovation

Catherine Docherty*, Micaela Mazzei, Artur Steiner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite the growing academic and policy interest in social enterprises, existing debates fail to answer how these organizations innovate without compromising their social mission. In particular, the mechanisms that assist social enterprises to innovate in line with their mission have been overlooked in the social enterprise literature. Through an empirical study of four social enterprises in Scotland, UK, we focus on Design Thinking and show that, through stimulating the engagement of diverse stakeholders, generating organizational knowledge and challenging traditional power dynamics, Design Thinking assists social enterprises in inducing mission-aligned innovation. Through the lens of Intellectual Capital theory, our article shows the applicability of Design Thinking in the field of social entrepreneurship, and draws implications for policy and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalEntrepreneurship & Regional Development
Early online date27 Nov 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Nov 2023


  • design thinking
  • social enterprise
  • stakeholder collaboration
  • innovation
  • knowledge creation
  • intellectual capital
  • Design thinking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Business and International Management


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