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Are organizations overrating the value of innovation? Can social sector organizations make innovation more productive? What constitutes an organization’s capability for continuous innovation?

At the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, Christian Seelos and Johanna Mair are engaged in research that aims to generate actionable insights on how productive innovation can occur in social sector organizations, and why it often does not.

Seelos and Mair are known for challenging status quo assumptions about innovation. During this evening conversation, the duo will discuss internal and external factors that are known to impact the ability to innovate. They will touch upon how new ideas are generated or accessed, how they are evaluated and how they are experimented with, adopted and finally formalized as new products or services. Real-world examples will draw from the researchers unique decade-long relationships with leading such social sector organization as Aravind Eye Car Hospital, BRAC and Waste Concern. Audience Q&A to follow.

Reception: 6:30-7:15 pm
Conversation: 7:15-8:30 pm

Tickets: $20 / $15 for Stanford alumni who graduated in 2004 and after.


This event is brought to you by The Stanford New York Alumni Board and the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS). Christian Seelos and Johanna Mair’s research is generously supported by the Rockefeller Foundation.


Johanna Mair is the Hewlett Foundation Visiting Scholar at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and Academic Editor of the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR). She served on the faculty at IESE Business School from 2001 to 2011 and is currently at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin as a Professor of Management, Organization and Leadership. She is also a Visiting Professor of Social Entrepreneurship at INSEAD. Johanna has held a visiting positions at the Harvard Business School, was recognized as a "Faculty Pioneer" for Social Entrepreneurship Education by the Aspen Institute. She is the co-editor of three books on social entrepreneurship and has published in leading academic journals. Before earning her Ph.D. in Management from INSEAD (France), Johanna was directly involved in executive decision-making in international banking. Today, alongside her academic responsibilities, she chairs the Global Agenda Council on Social Innovation of the World Economic Forum, carries out consultancy and board work for multinational companies, the United Nations, foundations and social venture funds.

Christian Seelos is a visiting scholar at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society. He is a faculty member at the Department of Economics and Business at KU Leuven (Belgium) and an academic visitor at Oxford University (UK). Most recently he served as the Director of the IESE Platform for Strategy and Sustainability and a Senior Lecturer in the Strategic Management Department at IESE Business School. He teaches MBA and executive courses in International Business, Global Strategic Management, Social Entrepreneurship and Strategy and Sustainability. Christian researches the interface between organizational strategy and global sustainability including social innovation, new business models for poverty alleviation, climate change and water stress. The Strategic Management Society recognized his recent research on innovative corporate strategies in emerging markets with the Best Paper Award for Practice Implications and also the Gold Price of the highly contested IFC-FT essay competition on private sector development. He has published widely in peer-reviewed journals in the natural- and social sciences, held managerial positions in the private industry and served as Senior Adviser to the Chairman at the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) where he led inspection and disarmament efforts on biological weapons in Iraq.

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