WIT Press

Place, relationships, and community- controlled capital: on ecosystem-based innovation towards an equitable competitive advantages distribution, the Boston ujima Project case


Free (open access)


Volume 13 (2018), Issue 8



Page Range

1072 - 1089

Paper DOI



WIT Press


C. Bevilacqua & Y. Ou


The paper proposes that the issue related to an emerging inequality in advanced democracies due to the knowledge-based economy is partially argued in literature. Despite the political approaches traditionally grounded on the opposition of equality-oriented capitalism to efficiency-oriented capitalism, the shocks of technology produce results that tend to skew towards income and wealth polarization. The ongoing results of the new technologically driven economy reveal an increasing need for alternative ways to ensure an equitable distribution of the competitive advantages among the whole population. To strive against this polarization, the authors illustrated an example of multi-sectoral community- based institution, which can collaborate to construct economic democracy by empowering the civil society with the decision-making power in the economic sphere. The study stands out from the existing empirical studies by taking the Boston ujima Project (BuP) as an analytical framework with the aim of looking at the extent to which a place-based and multi-stakeholder innovation ecosystem promotes economic democratization and helps to address socioeconomic inequality. The paper defines an analytical tool based on a comparison of literature review and the organizational structure of BuP. The literature review allows to look into the economic impact of social innovation, focusing on the eco- nomic democratization process and ‘system thinking’ embedded in social innovation. Then, the BuP grounded in the systematization of literature review is described as an innovation ecosystem based on the multi-stakeholder collaborative mechanism, a novel ecosystem-based innovation approach to address socioeconomic inequality. It is found that by incorporating ‘ecosystem’ into social innovation process, the BuP has created a holistic, integrated approach that joins place, capital and relationships to address socioeconomic inequality.


Boston Ujima Project, economic democratization, ecosystem-based innovation, innovation, socioeconomic inequality.