Scaling social innovation: a cross-cultural comparative study of school-based mentoring interventions

Maria Vittoria Bufali, Francesca Calò, Alec Morton, Graham Connelly

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Social innovation is increasingly recognised as a powerful vehicle to address unmet societal needs. Nonetheless, research into how contexts and agency interact to determine outcomes/risks of its scaling appears still limited. This study draws on structuration theory to fill some gaps. By comparing two school-based mentoring interventions, it first shows that comparable external catalysts can trigger diverging ambitions and paths to scale. Second, it finds that certain strategic/agentic choices (e.g., entrepreneurial, political, coalition-building skills; evaluation), combined with specific contextual features, help to achieve more rapidly a larger scale of expansion. Finally, it highlights which risks, in this field, more strongly relate to agentic and/or contextual factors, providing insights for research, policy and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Social Entrepreneurship
Early online date19 May 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 May 2023


  • social innovation
  • scalability
  • school based mentoring
  • cross-cultural study


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