ENTR506: ONLINE COLLABORATION PROJECT WITH STUDENTS FROM BEGAMO UNIV
Gladys Kittony, ID: 31084981 Jeerathida Narumitlert, ID: 31199763 Li Chang, ID: 31074222
ENTR506: ONLINE COLLABORATION PROJECT Introduction Virtual or online collaboration is a new trend in todayâ€™s business world that continues to gain popularity globally. It is caused by increased globalization and advancements in technology, which have changed the nature of work (Bell & Kozlowski, 2002). With this upsurge, it is necessary to be fully conversant with what exactly it entails and the process involved. This academic term presented a valuable opportunity for us to gain useful insights on virtual communication. We collaborated virtually with a team of Italian students from Bergamo University, Italy on innovation related topics. The following sections of this report elaborate the process and outcome of the collaboration process, based on our experience with them. In addition, the main challenges faced which include conflicting goals, communication issues and schedule is discussed. To conclude we shall give our personalized unique experience.
Outcome Summary: Online Collaboration Projects No. Topic 1
Innovation in Agricultural Sector
Team Members Jeerathida Narumitlert Stefano Leidi, Filippo Valoncini
Brief discussion of findings Agriculture is facing a huge challenge due to the increase in demographic trends and urbanization. There is need for innovation in the sector so as to ensure sustainable production of food. Our research involved identifying the main agricultural innovative solutions to be implemented in two European countries: Italy and United Kingdom which are 1. Hydroponics Applications, a process of growing plants using mineral and nutrient solutions, and without soil. 2. Precision Farming, another improvement of farming efficiency that consists of harvesting robots and the use of flying vehicles for cultivation purposes. If fully adopted, these technologies will cause a paradigm the sector. Increased yields will meet the sharply increasing demand throughout the world.
International Social Enterprise: social innovation
Li Chang Susanna Rossi Marua Mohamed
Social entrepreneurship has reached a high level of visibility in recent years both in the UK and Italy. This entrepreneurial approach typically refers to the application of business and marketbased competences in the not-for-profit sector. The social business approach finds compromise between the forprofit enterprises and the not-for-profit associations, throughout the development of sustainable and social oriented business models. Following this approach, the fundamental purpose of social entrepreneurs in the UK and Italy is creating social value for the public good; they adopt a mission to create and sustain social value and they pursue opportunities to serve this mission.
Innovation in Fashion Industry
Gladys Kitony Lara Carlotti Marzia Morgantini
Innovation and R&D are the principal elements that make up the Italian Fashion Industry. All these are deeply rooted in the ‘Made In Italy’ classical tradition. UK’s industry focuses mostly on Promotion and Marketing and it is for this reason that the industry holds events, such as fashion week and showrooms, all which have led to the promoting of UK’s fashion and textile industry both locally and internationally. The fashion industry in the UK should learn from its Italian counterpart and vice versa. This is critical to ensure future sustainability of both industries
Figure 1: Diagram showing the collaboration process and challenges experienced
Our collaboration with our Italian colleagues involved five major steps: Contacting Italians, goal setting, task allocation, sending updates and finally end of project.
1. We first contacted our Italian colleagues and introduced ourselves to them. Due to cultural differences and a lack of mutual understanding, we faced communication challenges. 2. The second step was goal setting: This was meant to set the stone rolling so as to ensure that the team works towards the same goal. During this stage, we experienced the challenge of having conflicting goals. 3. The fourth step in the process is constantly updating the team. We strived to ensure this updates were timely. However, due to fact everyone in the team has a different schedules, agreeing on meeting time was a challenge. Communication was also a challenge. 4. The project was then finalized after completion of all tasks.
We shall now discuss the challenges in detail:
CHALLENGES AND LIMITATIONS All projects are prone to challenges of one kind or another. This is true of our collaboration projects with our Italian colleagues. We will present the key challenges that arose and approach to coming up with solutions to the challenges.
1. Conflicting goals with our Italian counterparts We all agree that our collaboration projects started off with utmost passion and enthusiasm. We were all excited to meet each other and we eagerly looked forward to working together. However what seemed similar in all our projects was having different goals. This had an immense impact on all our groups as it led to a variety of objectives and sub-tasks in the team. It is good that all of our teams realised the hurdle before the last stretch of the project, as we were able to find ways of dealing with what seemed a ‘monster’ to us. Solution To arrive at an amicable solution the different teams seemed to have taken different approaches. For instance for one team (Gladys’s), all goals were brought to the table, discussed and agreed on one. This was basically to achieve unification of the team. Hansen (2009) describes this as getting people to commit to a common cause, which is greater than their own individual goals. These goals did indeed set the stone rolling as the team drew up a project task plan that directed focus to one area. Henceforth, the project moved smoothly to the end. If teams have a common goal, then an environment conducive for stewardship theory to develop will be created. According to this theory, People look after others, shared views and goals towards a common objective (Donaldson, 1990, Davis et al., 1997) In the case of Jeerathida, she decided to abandon her personal goals and adopt the goals of the rest of the team. This motivated her and everyone in the team, thereby creating a suitable work environment and in the end made everyone happy. This is in line with goal theory that states “people strive to achieve goals in order to satisfy their emotions and desires” (Mullins, 2010). Jeerathida’s approach is a collectivist one, that is, it supports working collectively as a group or team so as to achieve the overall team goal.
Communication has been mentioned as the greatest barrier in virtual collaboration (Ebrahim et al., Steinfield et al., 2001). This is not surprising as communication was one core challenge across all our projects with the Italians. This arose when communication was written, that is on email, whatsapp or even facebook and it would at times cause misinterpretation, since you would not be sure what the person really meant nor the tone of the message being passed, this is probably due to the fact that communication was not face to face. Handy (1995) argues that lack of “trust needs touch” may have a negative influence on the performance of the effectiveness of virtual teams. This affected efficiency and led to a delayed decision making process.
Solution It helped to agree on standard patterns of interactions that leveraged on everyone’s communication strengths. One group adopted this to reduce on the miscommunication challenge. For instance, if a member of the group foresaw his or her message getting misunderstood on email, he or she would request for a video communication such as a Skype video call. The functional theory of communication supports group adaptation of communication elements to enhance communication. Among these variables is relevant resource such as communication tools. We would also use smiley facial images on tools such as facebook and whatsapp, just to help our Italian colleagues to understand our emotions. They would actually respond back with a smiley face or emoticon.
3. Difference in Schedules Our Italian colleagues have different schedules from ours; it was therefore challenging to coordinate the activities of the team and to find a mutually convenient time to hold meetings. Our initial plan was to have virtual meetings regularly to share updates of progress. In cases where we were not been able to find a mutually convenient time to hold a meeting, we resorted to sending our updates via email. In some cases, we were forced to have meetings very early in the morning, thereby forcing some of us to adjust our morning schedules so as to take part in these meetings. Team theory proposed by Kozlowski, Gully, Nason, & Smith (1999) support adaptability in teams as a means to effectively combine member resources, and adapting capabilities, coordination, and performance to meet unexpected and novel challenges.
1. Culture and diversity According to Hofstede (1980) culture is the collective programming of the mind, which distinguishes the members of one group from another and is passed from generation to generation From our collaboration project, interesting elements of the Italian culture emerged, which we were even able to learn. They say: â€œTo interact well with people from other cultures, it helps to speak a bit of their language, know about your own cultural style, and know how your cultural style meshes with those of others" (Horward, 1983). Our collaboration project with the Italian students serves as a true proof to this.
We all strived to understand some aspects of the Italian culture including greetings in the Italian language. This created a good rapport by laying a firm foundation for us to work together, since by knowing their culture, we were able to know how best to convey information to them. Even though our interactions with the Italians were primarily on matters related to the task at hand, we all seemed to have informal exchanges on cultural elements like language and food.
This made us realise that people are always willing to share their culture. This builds their social identity by raising their self-esteem and giving them a sense of belonging. Morlan (2012) noted that people are very proud of their cultures and customs and are often keen to help you understand them. This supports the need to build a rapport with your team, whilst also building your awareness.
Learning how your team members greet in their language is a concept we learned from our course convenor (Cruz 2014, personal communication), who indicated that it helps build a good relationship with your team members from diverse cultures.
2. Be Pays to be Open and receptive! While virtual communication is complicated, there exist other complexities when the team is diverse. Virtual teams are subject to the additional complexity brought about by interactions among culturally diverse team members (Mockaitis et al., 2012). It is important for the team to be innovative in handling these complexities so as to instead derive the true splendour of their diversity.
A key innovative approach is to have an open and receptive mind, for this will prepare you for whatever may arise from your interaction with your team members. Moreover, you will truly appreciate the rewards that come with diversity. Before we began our interactions with our Italian colleagues, we wondered what the collaboration project would be like, considering the diverse nature of the team and the fact that we were miles away from them. Were it not for the guest lecture by Stich (Personal communication, 20th January 2014) we would not have learned of this approach, which spearheaded our projects to the right direction.
This approach built our confidence and enabled us acquire new and diverse concepts and ideas from my team members. According to Gardner (2005), greater diversity can provide the potential for greater capacity for making complex decisions, where varied interests need to be balanced. This is indeed true as our teams cognitive capability was enhanced by our diversity.
UNIQUE PERSONAL EXPERIENCE Gladys Kitony: Embrace your challenges, thereâ€™ s always a solution!
It was during the first week of the term, when we had our first class with our course convener â€“ Allan Cruz who introduced the course to us. What really caught my attention was the virtual collaboration project with Italian students from Bergamo University. This was something I had never done before. I was so exhilarated!
My project with my Italian team began few weeks later on a very high note. We were all super excited. No sooner had the project began than we started experiencing hurdles. A major challenge was on the topic itself, which proved to be too wide for such a limited time span. We decided to focus on one area but we were not sure which one. We then decided to speak to our course conveners and this resulted to tangible solutions. Throughout the project, we were also able to find practical solutions to all our other challenges. From this I learnt that teams, and more so virtual ones always experience challenges in one form or another. Embracing these challenges is very important as they always have solutions
Li Chang - Communication and information technology
During this collaboration with Italian students, several types of communication and information technologies have been used, which will support the collaboration for the virtual team. There are totally 4 kinds of communication and information technologies which have been used during the period of collaboration. They are email, Facebook, Skype and Dropbox respectively. The first time teammates contacted each other through emails, which was provided by the lecturers. After first contact, we found that it was inappropriate for frequent communication through email. So we changed to Facebook. Facebook was the one we used most frequently, which was quite convenient and in time. Besides Facebook, Skype was also applied to the collaboration, which help us discuss the topic and allocate tasks to each teammate. Also, Skype was regarded as an effective communication tool to avoid misunderstanding. Apart from communication tools, information technology, for example, Dropbox provides the space which enables us to put all the useful data into it. Thus, everyone can use that data which is shared by other teammates. It largely improves the efficiency of research. In 21st century, with the development of globalization, everyone, to some extent, have an opportunity to experience the collaboration in virtual teams. Technology plays an important role in virtual collaboration. Therefore, efficiently taking use of the technology can benefit us a lot to win the future.
Jeerathida Narumitlert – National Culture and Social Capital Investment Working as a multicultural team hugely require an understanding in culture difference and “how cultural values influence each type of resistance” (Hofstede, 1984, p.9) as it play a critical influential role towards global virtual team collaboration’s direction. From my previous experience of working with a lack of understanding in “national culture” (ibid), there was a misunderstanding among team members which resulted in poor mark, broken relationship and negative work experience. While in this case of cooperating with Italian, the shared feminine character alike Thai made our process more flexible with our compromising and respectful characteristics. Then, there has not been a resistance on changing happen all through this collaboration. One example is that we tried to figure out how to understand each other’s assignment and allocated the most suited job for an individual. Moreover, from my observation to EIP classmates, Thais are more willing to commit ourselves in delivering the work comparing to other classmates despite of the diverse objectives. This can be demonstrated by “collectivist orientation” which incorporate the team-oriented characteristic (Mockaitis & Rose & Zettinig, 2012,p.1). With that mindset, we are more willing to admit the team and voluntarily to reduce our own interest’s prioritization for reaching the collective goals as there are many constraints occurred due to the nature of global virtual group such time limitation. Thus, I decided to align with different direction to develop and maintain a good friendship further as we value it as a “social capital” investment (Bohn, Buchta, Hornik & Mair, 2014, p.1).
CONCLUSION To sum up, the collaboration project with the students from Bergamo University was a great learning experience for all of us. Overall coordination was good, we worked well as a team, always helping each other to achieve the end goal of the project. This signifies the stewardship theory (1991) which assumes managers to be stewards, working towards the achievement of the company goals and not their own. For most of us, our goal was to identify challenges in a certain sector of the economy, as well as come up with innovative solutions From our experience it is evident that, while there are great benefits that come with virtual collaboration especially in different cultures, new challenges rise with them (Precup, O'Sullivan, Cormican, & Dooley, 2006). It is important for the team to find ways of dealing with these challenges.
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INNOVATIONS IN THE AGRICULTURAL SECTOR Agriculture is facing a huge challenge. Applying the most conservative estimates to current
demographic trends, the human population will increase by about 2.3 billion people until 2050. Moreover, they will urbanize fast: 70 percent of people in the developed countries will live in cities. An estimated 1 billion hectares of new land will be needed to grow enough food to feed them, if traditional farming practices continue as they are practiced today, but land under crops is projected to increase by some 70 million ha globally. Agriculture has to change in order to satisfy these needs, develop an agricultural system able to reach a sustainable production of a safe and varied food supply. An increase of efficiency and new sources of production are the leverages in order to feed the increasing population. All over the world, many researches are begun in order to identify suitable way to overcome this issue. In this research, we identify the main agricultural innovative solutions that are being implemented in two European countries: Italy and United Kingdom. This two countries present completely different characteristics, in terms of products, farms extension and size and economical impact. It will translate into completely different needs and consequent innovations. The first solution is provided by the innovative hydroponics applications. Hydroponics is the process of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions without soil. This technology will allow to cultivate in innovative spaces, different from the traditional arable lands. Hydroponics applications can be placed within cities, requiring less space and providing zero-kilometers products with the same (or even better) characteristics compared to traditionally grown food. Hydroponics results in stable and higher yields, with a lower water consumption. It will allow to produce crops in greenhouses or in multilevel buildings dedicated to agriculture. Now, when the cost of land is at a premium, crops are being produced underground, on rooftops and in greenhouses using hydroponic methods. Hydroponic techniques allow vertical stack of plants, which leads to the creation of multilevel buildings dedicated to farming, the so called Vertical Farms. Vertical growing technologies should be seen as an essential element which can help to achieve long-term targets of food production and ensure environmental sustainability. Such a high-rise farm has not yet been operative, but several projects have been presented and in the next future vertical farms are expected to spread all over the world. In 2009, the world's first pilot production system, called VertiCrop, was installed at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park in the United Kingdom. The project represents the first garden-based sustainable growing laboratory. A different project has been carried out in Milan: the world's first Vertical Forest. Bosco Verticale (vertical forest) is a pair of residential which will host more than 900
trees on his terraces. The trees will help to mitigate pollution, produce oxygen, moderate temperature in the buildings, mitigate the urban heat island effect and attenuate outside noise. Another interesting application of hydroponic technology is the so called Underground Farming. It uses available underground tunnels as growing space, with hydroponics and LED lights which substitute respectively soil and sunlight. Early adopters are spreading all over the world. An example is Zero Carbon Food, a London-based start-up which has started using London underground tunnels to grow vegetables. Food grown underground is not affected by carbon pollution, weather conditions, pests and the temperature is constant at about 20 °C, a perfect growing temperature. Zero Carbon's name states also that this growing technique eliminate transportation carbon emissions. Replicating Zero Carbon Food's application in Italy would be difficult due to the lack of large rentable underground tunnels. Indoor farming offers the promise of urban renewal, sustainable production of a safe and varied food supply (year-round crop production), and the eventual repair of ecosystems that have been sacrificed for horizontal farming. As population increases and arable land declines, people will turn to new technologies like hydroponics to create additional channels of crop production. To feed the increasing population, hydroponics will integrate traditional agriculture and it could dominate very well food production in the future. The improvement of farming efficiency is another important aspect to cope with the population growth. Precision farming has gained a central role in order to achieve this goal. The main technologies that can be clustered in this category are the harvesting robots and the use of flying vehicles for cultivation purposes. An harvesting robot is essentially a mechanic device that has been programmed to substitute human workers performing tasks in a faster and more efficient way. It is usually equipped with microwave measurement systems to allow the identification of the precise crop structure. There are examples of the robot utilization both in UK and Italy. In Britain, there is an increasing adoption of so called “farmbots” which help to handle the complicated and fastidious tasks of harvesting that large-scale and dated machines are not able to treat, especially in the horticultural sector where the product characteristics (e.g. size and maturity) are very important to meet consumers’ expectations. In Italy, instead, farmers are mainly focused on the efficient and effective use of phytochemicals developing an autonomous operating unit for the control of corn, wheat and olive trees. The second emerging solution in precision farming is the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones) for monitoring fields and collecting imagery. This innovative application can help farmers to survey crops, monitor for disease or precision-spray pesticides and fertilizers, but the
possibilities are endless. Consequently to the development of such processes, governments are discussing about possible regulation in order to ensure safety and an easy access to the products. Definitively robots and drones are contributing to the agricultural sector evolution thanks to their ability to adapt to several situations where existing machinery and human resources cannot work. By improving the cultivation process and the analysis of crop fields through the previous technologies, farmers will be able to reduce the amount of resources that are needed and also increase the productivity with the aim of exploiting crop fields at best. The last technology which will contribute to solve the global population problem is genetic engineering. Genetic engineering objectives are linked to the efficiency issue. Farmers are asking for improved plants that can decrease the amount of resources needed to grow and increase the production yield, while some governments are requiring researchers to develop products able to ensure the necessary amount of nutrients needed for human health. Genetic modification starts from the ability to identify genes that may confer advantages on certain crops, and the ability to work with such characteristics very precisely. It uses enzymes that are able to cut pieces of DNA in order to join them into a gap in the DNA of another organism. There are several objectives for which GE is used, indeed it can improve quality of products in term of nutrients, flavor and colors, fiber quality and shelf life; increase crop field productivity by inducing early flowering, self incompatibility and stress tolerance; protect crops from pests, herbicides and infections and also benefit the environment in term of preservation of soil and water. Connected to all these advantages there are also many concerns deriving mainly from the impact that such GMOs can have on human health (allergies and antibiotic resistance) and on environment (due to interaction with other plants or organisms). Several studies can be found both in Italy, where only applied research is allowed and researchers are mainly focusing on the resistance of plants to adverse climate conditions, and UK, where government publicly sustain OGMs and there is a deeper focus on increasing the quantity of particular nutrients that are considered fundamental for preventing diseases and improve plants health. These technologies will change the paradigm of farming as we know nowadays, shaping farming on human needs. Farms in the center of cities and improved efficiency and yields will be fundamental to meet the sharply increasing demand throughout the world.
(By Leidi Stefano, Narumitlert Jeerathida and Valoncini Filippo)
INNOVATIONS IN THE FASHION & TEXTILE SECTOR
INTRODUCTION TO THE INDUSTRY Fashion and Textile are among the oldest manufacturing sectors in both Italy and the UK. Both countries are global leader in the sector with a strong and vibrant production and retail sector comprising of a strong inbuilt textile production and a global high-end set of fashion products. Both operate in highly regulated economies facing competition from countries with low labour costs and much lower levels of workplace regulation. The industries in the two sectors are predominantly different in the way they were formed. While majority of firms in UK’s Fashion and textile sector are public companies, those in the UK are family owned and managed. The Anglo-Saxon shareholder capitalism views factories simply as assets to be exploited, traded, closed down as the occasion dictates. The Italian family business views its factories in a different way. The family is to a large extent defined by its factory and its history and associations. The expectation is that the business will be handed on, in good shape, to the next generation. It is for this reason that family businesses have been greatly successful in Italy compared to other countries including the UK. A detailed comparison using case study example follows in the next section. COMPARISON OF UK AND ITALY’S FASHION INDUSTRY This section focuses on comparing Italy’s and UK’s fashion industry using case study examples of Giorgio Armani (Italy) and Burberry (UK). A brief introduction of the two companies is as follows:
Armani Giorgio Armani is considered as one of the most prestigious clothing labels in Italy and the world. The brand maintains the aura of a real luxury brand. Giorgio Armani opened his first Emporio Armani in Milan in 1981. The company continues to expand its retail network all over the world and continues to develop its presence in China and other parts of Asia. I 2012, the group opened 104 new stores, bringing its total stores to 2,203 worldwide.
Burberry Burberry is a luxury British fashion house established in 1856 by Thomas Burberry. With outwear at its core, it does not only manufacture clothing, but also fragrances and fashion accessories. The brand gained popularity during the First World War when it won the contract to supply trench coats to the British Army. The company now targets a much younger market and owns about 469 stores in 48 countries, which are all located in largely populated and metropolitan cities
Fashion brands are internationally
On going innovation is critical in the
Italian Fashion industry. This
for their cutting edge creativity, mostly in
innovation is applied in all areas of
production and goes hand in hand with
Burberry’s new and core competence is in
R&D. For instance, Armani has a very
digital innovation, driven by the desire to
innovative supply chain management
“connect customers directly to the brand”.
that enables it to maximize direct-to-
Angela Ahrendts, CEO since 2006 has
store deliveries, reduce costs and
focused on a digital strategy that made
improve on-shelf availability
Burberry the first luxury brand to live stream a fashion show in 3D Research and
The industry values Research and
Heavy investment is put in Research
Development. However, there’s a lower
and development. Through R&D,
level of linkage with other fields such as
Armani has been able to introduce an
Science. In general, UK’s Fashion
ecologic brand line, with jeans made
industry has a poor overlap with scientific
using recycled garments, clothing
disciplines. Burberry focuses on market
realized with hemp, and now it
research, done on a continuous basis.
features the Armani Jeans Denim Culture with garments made by bamboo fibres
The industry invests heavily in marketing.
Less emphasis on raising product and
Firms in the sector are encouraged to
brand awareness through events.
participate in exhibitions and events.
Companies therefore adopt their own
One key event aimed at promoting fashion sales promotion strategies. Armani and textile industry both locally and
adopts a sales promotion strategy that
internationally is the Annual Fashion
involves giving discounts.
Week. Celebrity endorsement is also very
The Italian brand is also bolstering its
critical in the UK fashion industry.
social media presence through an
- Burberry participates in both local and
Instagram effort in which consumers
international events and exhibitions.
can upload images of them wearing
Celebrity endorsement is one of
their favourite sunglasses for the
Burberry’s core marketing strategy
brand’s “Frames of Your Holiday” campaign.
CONCLUSION Innovation and R&D are the principal elements that make up the Italian Fashion Industry. All these are deeply rooted in the ‘Made In Italy’ classical tradition. UK’s industry focuses mostly on Promotion and Marketing and it is for this reason that the industry holds events, such as fashion week and showrooms, all which have led to the promoting of UK’s fashion and textile industry both locally and internationally. The fashion industry in the UK should learn from its Italian counterpart and vice versa. This is critical to ensure future sustainability of both industries especially with the growing competition from emerging markets like China. Such markets pose as threats to the international market as well as the local market of both Italy and the UK. (By: Lara Carlotti, Marzia Marzia Morgantini, Gladys Kitony)
3. INTERNATIONAL SOCIAL ENTERPRISE: SOCIAL INNOVATION
For the development of this Project Work, we were required to collaborate with a virtual team, made by two students of Bergamo University and one student of Lancaster University. Our topic is “International Social Enterprise and Social Innovation”. During the collaboration, we used several kinds of communication tools, such as e-mail, Facebook, Skype and Dropbox. After some initial misunderstandings, due to the difference between what we were expected to deliver, we discussed about the topic and decided how to develop the project. We organized our work in three parts: a research phase, an analysis phase and a design phase. Here we summarize our main findings and ideas. We first give an overview about social enterprise and social innovation, then we analyze problems and opportunities for social enterprises, and finally we propose an innovative idea suitable for both the Italian and the English market. Social enterprise is a fast growing sector, and, in recent years, it has reached a high level of visibility, especially in Europe. Social enterprises are businesses that aim to address social problems, improving communities, people’s life and the environment. They make money from selling goods and services in the open market, but they reinvest their profits back into the business or the local community. This business approach finds compromise between the for-profit enterprises and the notfor-profit associations, throughout the development of sustainable and social oriented business models. Nowadays social entrepreneurship faces big challenges; entrepreneurs have to continuously adapt to social changes, in order to reach both the profit goal and the social mission. Social innovations are new ideas that meet social needs and, at the same time, create new social relationships. These innovations are expected to deliver a value that is less directed to profit and more to issues such as well-being, quality of life and solidarity. In Europe social enterprises are regulated by special laws and requirements, they are based on economic and social principles. In particular, they have to follow a social mission, involving paid workers and volunteers in the company’s activities, and they have limits in the distribution of profits. Social business still represent a small fraction of the Italian market. In Italy, there are around 12,500 organizations, they include: social enterprises (365), social cooperatives, and potential social enterprises such as associations, foundations and for-profit businesses that operate in certain sectors with a high social impact. The English market for social enterprises is more developed, it represents a moderate fraction of the economy, and it is rapidly growing. In the UK, there are about 70,000 social enterprises, which recently has experienced a very high turnover increase (38%). In order to propose a virtual social idea suitable for Italy and the UK, we investigated the main problems, trends and opportunities of the social industry. The main societal trends that offer challenges and opportunities for social enterprises in Europe are: migration and ageing of the
population, water climate change and energy, diversity and the use of IT solutions, social exclusion and poverty, healthcare and ethical goods and services. These trends present huge challenges but also opportunities for social innovations. Many issues related to these trends, previously perceived as problematic, are now considered as growth markets. Besides, the main challenges that social entrepreneurs usually meet are: financing, governance and coordination, legal and cultural recognition, communication and community involvement and the lack of data. According to these considerations, we focus, in particular, on the problem of lack of communication and information among social enterprises, associations and communities. Indeed, there are many social enterprises in Italy and in the UK, which try to address social problems, but most of people do not know them and what they are doing for the community. We think that people have to be aware of social issues and take the possibility to do something. There could be many solutions to this problem, which involve different stakeholders, so we decided to focus on a specific target customer. We thought about an innovative solution for children, which could address the problem of communication between social enterprises and people, exploiting the young generation talent to use technological devices. Indeed, one of the growing societal trends in Europe is the predisposition of young people to use IT solutions such as smartphones, tablets, Internet and applications. In Italy the 44,4% of children receives a mobile phone between 9 and 11 years old, the 17,6% has a mobile phone before 7 years old and the main used function of technological devices is playing games. There are interesting data also in the UK, where 29% of children who are between 5 and 11 years old own a smartphone. According to these findings, we suggest a possible solution: what if we can address the problem of lack of communication between social enterprises and young people, exploiting and improving their use of technology?
Our solution is an application for smartphone and tablet called SHARE!
SHARE! is a social game for children between 4 and 10 years old, which has the purpose to reduce the distance between social associations and people, making children and parents aware of social issues. The innovative aspect of this game is that, even if children can download it as a classic application game, they are required to do real actions in order to play. At each level of the game there are different actions to be done, each one with a social purpose. All the activities involve charitable organizations and social enterprises, in order to spread information and fill the communication gap. Playing this game, children and parents can meet territorial associations and have more information about what they do. SHARE! Could create a network that connects all the territorial organizations and social enterprises, giving them more visibility. During the game, players can get in touch with the people they are helping: hospital patients, children without family, elderly and people with social
problems. They receive also information through advertising. It is an innovative way to involve actively children in their communityâ€™s social life and to educate them about these issues. The idea of the development of a game with educational and social purpose is supported by literature. Indeed, play, in particular during early childhood, positively influences important psychological, sociological, and intellectual developments, and it is an effective way to teach. After an analysis of the industry and the possible competitors, we state that our proposal could be considered a blue ocean strategy. Indeed, it focuses on specific targets, children and their parents, and tries to create a new market space: a network among social organizations and young community, combining the growing market of smartphone and tablet applications with the increasing importance of socially oriented businesses. (By Li Chang , Mohamed Adel Marua, Rossi Susanna)
Published on Mar 20, 2014