An evolutionary view on social innovation and the process of economic change
The concepts social innovation and social entrepreneurship have gained considerable attention both in different fields of academic research and in the context of the development of economic and social policies. However, despite its wide-spread use there does not exist a unique or at least widely accepted agreement among scholars on its relevance and meaning. The principal aim of this paper is to work out a general framework for the analysis of social innovations borrowing key concepts from institutional economics, evolutionary (game) theory and the capabilities approach to welfare economics. Using these approaches we specify the elements that are core for the analysis of social innovation as well as secondary elements that are in the context of this concept and specific to particular manifestations of the phenomenon. While this attempt to clarify the concept of social innovation it is necessarily incomplete, we consider it to be a first necessary step to make them more operational for empirical research in social sciences but also for the design, implementation and assessment of policies to support social innovation. The final part of the paper discusses then how social innovation contributes to social and economic progress in general, and its potential contribution to industrial change more specifically.
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