Locally Identified Solutions and Practices: a critical realist investigation into the processes of social innovation in the context of neighbourhood policing

  • Timothy Curtis

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The purpose of the research was to establish by what mechanisms and in what contexts does the methodology called Locally Identified Solutions and Practices (LISP) applied to neighbourhood policing work as a socially innovative community engagement process in neighbourhood policing?’

The research used a critical realist & systems analysis approach, utilising Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) to investigate 8 projects implementing the Handbook to construct context-mechanism-outcome (CMO) chains to demonstrate what mechanisms contribute to what outcomes in which contexts.

Twenty-seven mechanisms were found to be active, 6 unique to this study, which provide a high-resolution insight into the processes of social innovation, removed from the personal characteristics of the social innovator. This establishes that there are clear, consistent and repeatable processes at play in social innovation, which suggests that the currently hegemonic postmodernist concept of ‘social bricolage’ requires further revision or rejection.

This study has demonstrated that the LISP Handbook is effective in neighbourhood policing for engaging with high risk vulnerable neighbourhoods. Moreover, the Handbook, allied to an understanding of the underlying mechanisms, has been demonstrated to be an effective, consistent and repeatable methodology for engaging intensively in vulnerable communities affected by severe crime.

The study has demonstrated the use of SSM as a method of case study analysis and comparison, and to create new insights within a CMO analysis. The research is the first to use SSM or CMO analyses in social innovation research or practice. Police officers & researchers will be interested in the LISP Handbook and how the projects were implemented. Social innovation practitioners and theorists will be interested in the CMO framework, and how mechanisms can guide the design, and implementation, of social innovations.
Date of AwardJul 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Northampton
SupervisorJohn Horton (Supervisor), Andrew Pilkington (Supervisor) & Rory Ridley-Duff (Supervisor)


  • Social innovation
  • public safety
  • neighbourhood policing
  • critical realism
  • social entrepreneurship
  • social enterprise
  • community engagement
  • community development
  • soft systems methodology
  • systems analysis
  • systems thinking
  • policing
  • criminology
  • bricolage
  • social impact

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