Social Movements and Free Innovation

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In this article, I explore innovation and diffusion from social movements as part of the phenomenon of free innovation in households. The article contributes to the literature on household innovation by illustrating how social movement motivations may differ from motivations examined in prior studies focused on self-rewards, as well as examining the implications for free innovations and diffusion patterns in this setting. Social movement innovators are typically motivated by a common cause (such as a quest for a new life order and societal change) and create innovations that address a cause and “system change” rather than individual goals. I identify and define three types of social movement innovation: behavioral, product, and symbolic innovation. The common-cause motivation also creates a new form of diffusion problem that can only be solved through the spread and consumption of new products, behaviors, or techniques by a sufficiently large crowd. Common-cause motivations should thus encourage innovation diffusion, thereby reducing the risk of the diffusion-failure problem usually observed in household innovation research.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104238
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number6
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Reprintet in: Research Policy, October 2021, v. 50, iss. 8, article 104288.


  • Social movements
  • Common-cause motivations
  • Behavioral innovation
  • Product innovation
  • Symbolic innovation
  • Diffusion

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