IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Social innovation: Buzz word or enduring term?


  • Pol, Eduardo
  • Ville, Simon


The term 'social innovation' has come into common parlance in recent years. Some analysts consider social innovation no more than a buzz word or passing fad that is too vague to be usefully applied to academic scholarship. Some social scientists, however, see significant value in the concept of social innovation because it identifies a critical type of innovation. In this paper, we suggest one possible definition of social innovation and show that when its empirical meaning is distilled, the term is of great importance. We distinguish social innovation from business innovation, and identify a subset of social innovations that requires government support.

Suggested Citation

  • Pol, Eduardo & Ville, Simon, 2009. "Social innovation: Buzz word or enduring term?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 878-885, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:38:y:2009:i:6:p:878-885

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jerry G. Thursby, 2000. "What Do We Say about Ourselves and What Does It Mean? Yet Another Look at Economics Department Research," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(2), pages 383-404, June.
    2. Ross Williams, 1998. "Funding Australian Universities," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 31(2), pages 148-156.
    3. Johnes, Jill & Johnes, Geraint, 1995. "Research funding and performance in U.K. University Departments of Economics: A frontier analysis," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 301-314, September.
    4. Richard Pomfret & Liang Choon Wang, 2003. "Evaluating The Research Output Of Australian Universities' Economics Departments," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(4), pages 418-441, December.
    5. Valadkhani, Abbas & Worthington, Andrew, 2005. "Ranking and Clustering Australian University Research Performance, 1998-2002," Economics Working Papers wp05-19, School of Economics, University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia.
    6. Abbas Valadkhani & Simon Ville, 2009. "Discipline-specific forecasting of research output in Australian universities," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(18), pages 1875-1880.
    7. Charnes, A. & Cooper, W. W. & Rhodes, E., 1978. "Measuring the efficiency of decision making units," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 2(6), pages 429-444, November.
    8. Joseph Macri & Dipendra Sinha, 2006. "Rankings Methodology for International Comparisons of Institutions and Individuals: an Application to Economics in Australia and New Zealand," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(1), pages 111-156, February.
    9. Joan R. Rodgers & Abbas Valadkhani, 2006. "A Multidimensional Ranking of Australian Economics Departments," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 82(256), pages 30-43, March.
    10. Abbott, M. & Doucouliagos, C., 2003. "The efficiency of Australian universities: a data envelopment analysis," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 89-97, February.
    11. Geraint Johnes, 1995. "Scale and technical efficiency in the production of economic research," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 2(1), pages 7-11.
    12. J. C. Glass & D. G. McKillop & G. O'Rourke, 2002. "Evaluating the productive performance of UK universities as cost-constrained revenue maximizers: an empirical analysis," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(9), pages 1097-1108.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Business innovation Social innovation Pure social innovation Bifocal innovation Government support;

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:38:y:2009:i:6:p:878-885. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.