Collective improvisation as a means to responsibly govern serendipity in social innovation processes

Sabrina Sauer*, Federico Bonelli

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    This article focuses on how collective improvisation, as a play with situational affordances and constraints, can facilitate or elicit luck in social innovation processes. We propose the improvisation perspective to offer a means to move from ungovernable to governable serendipity in innovation. Furthermore, the article presents Trasformatorio, an innovation methodology based on the living lab approach, that takes innovation-through-improvisation as its premise. Following an analysis of Trasformatorio’s social innovation efforts, we conclude that while governing serendipity may be a challenge, improvisation provides an opportunity to innovate responsibly. Improvisation refocuses ideas about unexpectedness and anchors the unforeseen to a process approach. This, in turn, leads to insights about how responsible social innovation can be governed by means of (1) situation awareness; (2) collective brokering; and (3) explicit reflection about how product and process, here conceptualised as part of a Design Space and Narrative Space respectively, interrelate.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)S44-S63
    JournalJournal of Responsible Innovation
    Issue numberS2
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14-Sep-2020


    • serendipity
    • improvisation
    • co-creation
    • Trasformatorio
    • social innovation

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