Prosocial Motivation as a Driver of Social Innovation in the UAE

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Social Science Quarterly


© 2020 by the Southwestern Social Science Association One important domain of nonmarket-driven innovation is social innovation. Defined as “new ideas that have the potential to improve either the quality or the quantity of life,” social innovation stands in stark contrast to business innovation that focuses on creativity with the intention of making a profit. Drawing on research on motivation, creativity, rentier mentality, and Islamic work ethics, this article takes a motivational approach to social innovation and advances a proposition that prosocial motivation is of particular importance in fostering social innovation in the context of the UAE. We argue that due to policies that grant nationals high financial stability and affluence, UAE locals are less likely to be driven by extrinsic motivation, but rather by intrinsic motivation. We propose that enhancing their prosocial motivation will have a synergetic effect with their intrinsic motivation and therefore lead to higher social innovation. This article extends the literature on prosocial motivation, social innovation, and social entrepreneurship by identifying a geographical/cultural region where the motivational basis for social innovation is amplified. Significantly, this article questions common assumptions about a rentier mentality and proposes a path to leverage social innovation. Implications for policymakers and practitioners are discussed.

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