The “GIIL way” of coupling education and research

At GIIL, we are deeply respectful towards practice and the work that funders and grantees invest in improving the quality of live for people. GIIL research proceeds from building trusted relationships, listening to, and joint learning with practicing philanthropists and development professionals. Our educational activities play a central role in this effort.

We synthesize information and data from trusted and long-term engagements with professionals in the form of case studies. These case studies provide a rich lens into the complexities of social problems and contexts. In our educational activities, we discuss these case studies with hundreds of professionals from various organizations and cultural backgrounds. In this way, we get exposed to various ways of looking at and interpreting social realities and the efforts of organizations to improve them.

As a next step, we usually share emerging ideas and frameworks in practice-oriented journals such as SSIR. GIIL operates from the belief that ideas and theories need to prove themselves in the real world. Eventually, after many rounds of improving and finetuning our ideas, we communicate and publish them for a more scholarly audience.

Recent examples of this practice-driven GIIL scholarship:

Innovation and Scaling for Impact

Listening to the needs of the Rockefeller foundation for understanding the innovation capacity of established grantees kickstarted a new round of looking at existing data and gathering new information. Several case studies were prepared and used in educational settings. Publications in SSIR shared several diagnostic decision-support perspectives and instruments for organizations and funders. Examples include important  perspectives on the link between innovation and impact, a problem mapping instrument and a tool for diagnosing innovation pathologies. Insights were eventually published as a scholarly book by Stanford University Press that won several awards, including one by the Academy of Management, and a chapter in an edited volume.

Mastering System Change

Our work on system change was triggered by the recent adoption of system perspectives by the philanthropic and development sectors. We restructured our social innovation courses around this topic to explore the possibilities, limits, and difficulties to making sense of and to operationalizing system perspectives. This insights were shared in a series of publications in SSIR on effective system change archetypes, on a useful typology of systems, and the hurdles to adopting effective system perspectives. Recently, these insights were shared with the scholarly community in the hope of inspiring colleagues and PhD students to help expand this perspective through rigorous and practice-oriented research.