This paper explores the agency of multinational corporations that perform social innovation under conditions of institutional complexity and resource constraints. Insights are drawn from a case study of Vodafone Group Plc and Safaricom Kenya Ltd that engaged in mobile money innovation in Kenya. The paper identifies three types of institutional voids that entrepreneurs can exploit to implement a social innovation: market, policy and social voids. Legitimating the social innovation involves appealing to the instrumental needs of target users, early and sustained engagement with policy-makers and redefining meanings of both incumbent and new technologies. The paper argues that spanning institutional voids – which provide entrepreneurial opportunities – also provide contingent legitimation narratives that can be targeted at different audiences. By mobilising insights from institutional theory, this paper provides a fresh perspective of social innovation in a base of the pyramid context.

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Industry and Innovation

Onsongo, E. (Elsie). (2017). Institutional entrepreneurship and social innovation at the base of the pyramid: the case of M-Pesa in Kenya. Industry and Innovation, 1–22. doi:10.1080/13662716.2017.1409104