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Webinar: Social Innovation in Professionalized Sectors


Social innovation is about creating and introducing new ideas and solutions to address persistent, complex social and environmental challenges — things like housing insecurity, the opioid crisis, climate change, poverty. These and other issues “hamper economic growth … heighten inequality, increase the need for expensive public services, and result in a profound human cost, both in terms of individual lives and social cohesion” ( 

A lot of what we know about social innovation has been learned by studying social innovators who work to address problems in environments where there is political, social, or economic turmoil or environments where there are market weakness and gaps. When turmoil is present, the severity and extent of social problems are uncovered, and social innovation introduces new solutions. When market weakness and gaps are present social innovation introduces new solutions to fill gaps or connect people to markets. 

Research in these settings tells us two important things about social innovation: 

  • Opportunities for social innovation are address by people and organizations who develop and implement new solutions that often take the form of new organizations and services.

  • Socially innovative organizations and services tend to cross sectors and bring together elements from different value and belief systems—they are hybrid solutions.

Today, we need social innovation in our health care, education, and social services sectors. These sectors, however, do not generally have the turmoil, gaps, or voids that some other environments have, potentially making it unclear what social innovations are needed. 

Furthermore, an important characteristic of these sectors limits opportunities for social innovation. This characteristic is that these sectors tend to be highly professionalized, meaning that in these sectors, professionals have long been responsible for defining and solving important social problems. 

In this webinar, we will:

  1. Examine why and how professionalism can limit opportunities for social innovation.

  2. Examine two pathways through which social innovation might be introduced when sectors are professionalized.

  3. Look at disrupting action and how it can contribute to conditioning professionalized sectors for social innovation.


Jo-Louise works in (and researches how to) encourage and support collaborative change and innovation in sectors and organizations where ways of working are firmly established and often professionalized. 

Before earning her MBA (Public Administration) and Ph.D. (Strategic Management and Organization) from the Alberta School of Business, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, she worked as a consultant in an international architectural and engineering firm and as a senior planner and clinical coordinator in large health authority.   

Much of her work has been about co-designing and implementing solutions that bring together leaders, managers, and staff in support of innovation and change. More recent work involves bringing together people from different sectors and organizations (e.g., government, for-profit, and non-profit) to co -inform, -design, and -implement strategic, often innovative initiatives. Many projects require nuanced facilitation and engagement.

Jo-Louise co-founded CCIG Solutions ( with Kathryn York in 2017. Through CCIG, Jo-Louise and Kathryn work with organizations and individuals who are interested in encouraging collaborative change and innovation to better address pressing social and organizational challenges.  

Jo-Louise is associated with the Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary (Assistant Adjunct Professor). Her research on innovation, change, and collaboration has been published in Organization Studies, Leadership, Business & Society, Academy of Management Proceedings, BMJ Quality & Safety, and the Journal of Change Management.


Publications that inform this webinar:

  • Huq, J. L. (2019). Conditioning a professional exchange field for social innovation. Business & Society, 58(5), 1047-1082.

  • Huq, J. L. (2015). Wicked Problems and Professional Work: Disrupting Work in a Mature Field with Incumbent Professions.

Earlier Event: May 13
Connecting Changemakers