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The Innovation Process
Ethics

Case Studies

The four case studies have been developed to help you explore, discuss and resolve ethical issues. They can been use as a window into the nature of the ethical challenges confronted by humanitarian innovation teams, or as a companion to the toolkit within a workshop setting.


In both the interviews and participant workshop feedback, we often heard that the ethical challenges faced by innovators felt isolating. Providing honest accounts of the difficult decisions they needed to make to donors could jeopardize existing or future funding, and the sector has become adept at writing about “failure” in a palatable way that obscures facts and makes it harder to learn from the mistakes of others. By developing a set of Case Studies, we hoped that innovators would be able to see a reflection of their own innovation journeys and challenges, and recognize the common, quotidian ethical challenges that are faced by others.

The Case Studies were developed in tandem with the toolkit with the intent to serve two purposes. First, the gathering of innovator experiences and ethical challenges to write the case studies was a valuable empirical exercise for the research team to engage in. Through the development of the case studies (structured around the six stages of the HIF Innovation Guide) we identified some of the key questions that are posed through the Ethics For Actions Tool. Second, we used the case studies as pedagogical resources with workshop participants to demonstrate the logic of the tools on an innovation that was not their own. This worked particularly well for the REACH Tool one of the later workshops, where one of the case studies was slightly adapted to prompt an immediate ethical decision making situation that simulated a challenge innovators may encounter in the field. The case studies were not piloted/iterated through innovator workshops to the same extent as the tools, primarily due to privacy concerns that need to be resolved by the Humanitarian Innovation Fund prior to their wider use and dissemination.