Innovation Studies

DSI4AU mapping header

An important area of innovation is digital social innovation (DSI). DSI is an emerging phenomenon where organisations use technology to make society better.

To facilitate research into DSI in Australia, the Pearcey Foundation is backing a PhD project to build a data "map" around what's really going on in Australia at the juncture of innovation, technology and social good. The research leverages a considerable amount of work out of Europe which has developed a platform to build such a map for the EU (see

The PhD candidate is Kelly Hutchinson and the topic is "Social impact of technology and digital social innovation in Australia". Other partners include the Melbourne Social Equity Institute and the Melbourne School of Government at the University of Melbourne. The project runs from 2014-2017.

DSI Definition

The EU-DSI project defines Digital Social Innovation (DSI) as:

"a type of collaborative innovation in which innovators, users and communities collaborate using digital technologies to co-create knowledge and solutions for a wide range of social needs and at a scale that was unimaginable before the rise of the Internet".

DSI Typology

Research Aims

The three main areas to be researched are:

  • Apply a digital social innovation typology in Australia and through mapping DSI organisations and their activities evaluate if the typology reflects Australian practice or if it needs adjusting.
  • Develop a DSI impact model of indicators drawn from the EU-DSI typology and literature and then test the theoretical framework on Australian DSI cases to build knowledge of the contribution of technology to social impact.
  • Improve the interdisciplinary understanding of digital social innovation across theory, policy and practice to further the field.