- The Rise of the Hybrid Domain: Collaborative Governance for Social Innovation by Yuko Aoyama and Balaji Parthasarathy
It is imperative for policymakers to strike a judicious balance between economic growth and social well-being. Simple as it may sound, it is a difficult goal to achieve. Contemporary market mechanisms have recently developed anomalies, evident at times of financial and economic crises. At the same time, social policies have not been able to ameliorate economic inequality, poverty and inadequate availability of basic services. In such circumstances, market driven solutions or social policies alone may have limited impact. But what could happen if these two approaches form linkages and collaborate? In this context, the authors of this book have proposed a novel concept of “hybrid domain”. Going beyond the distinct categorization between the state and markets, the concept of hybrid domain refers to a middle area between the two, “a newly emerging domain that overlaps public and private interests” (p. 2). The authors refer to the agents in this model as “stakeholders” rather than “shareholders” — a swelling “middle” between the public and the private domains. In doing so, they challenge the dual understanding of economic governance in terms of the state versus the market. It is argued that a unified conceptual framework rather than singular state, market or grassroots-approach will help to understand the complex interactions between the hybrid entities and generate social innovations. These social innovations often fill a certain delivery gap and may have far-reaching impact on the lives of the poor (this model is nicely captured in a figure provided on p. 5). Since India is a hotbed for such social innovations, the authors turn their gaze towards the country to test this model.
The concept of hybrid domain is corroborated through a number of case studies related to: health; agriculture; rural development; livelihoods in the informal sector; and renewable energy. One such innovation can be seen in the case of a social experiment that provides health services to remote areas through effective use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and entrenched medical networks in India. Known as the “Telemedicine Programme”, it provides for local franchisees who act as intermediaries between patients (usually in remote areas) and centrally located doctors based in urban centres. With the help of Internet-based tools, a doctor located in the central facility can carry out remote diagnosis elsewhere. Furthermore, the local franchise buys remote diagnostics kits from a non-government organizaiton (NGO). The programme is subsidized by the state or by international donors such as the Gates Foundation. Started as a pilot in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, the programme has now expanded to other poor states, too. By 2011, it had reached 2 million patients. Another example of the hybrid domain is an enterprise that works in close collaboration with silk weavers from Kanchipuram city, which has developed a silk-based “smart” chip diagnostic tool. The enterprise is supported by the Grand Challenges Canada and several national and international firms, and has established scientific linkages with a number of universities. Similar innovations can be seen in other sectors as well. Farmers in the states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, for example, have benefited from mobile-based solutions to the information gap problem, particularly regarding prices of their inputs. Innovations have also been introduced in providing skill-based training and livelihood opportunities for the youth. These case studies demonstrate the involvement and collaboration of multiple stakeholders ranging from NGOs to multinational enterprises (MNEs), together creating an active hybrid domain.
In all these cases, collaboration between the various stakeholders played an instrumental role in driving social innovations. This blending and blurring of boundaries between the state, markets and nonprofit organizations has given these hybrid domains flexibility. Authors argue that this “domain flexibility” is a long-drawn process of “merging economic and social missions” with shared values and learning from [End Page 135] these hybrid collaborations, ultimately resulting in successful social innovations. A survey conducted by the authors shows that collaborations are important for...