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Social innovation futures: beyond policy panacea and conceptual ambiguity


  • Paul Benneworth

    (Center for Higher Education Policy Studies, University of Twente, the Netherlands)

  • Effie Amanatidou

    (Manchester Institute for Innovation Research, Manchester University, UK)

  • Monica Edwards Schachter

    (CSIC-INGENIO, Valencia, Spain)

  • Magnus Gulbrandsen

    (Centre for Technology, Innovation & Culture (TIK), University of Oslo, Norway)


Social innovation is once more an increasingly popular notion circulating as an apparent means to solve the Grand Challenges of the 21st Century. But this common-sense idea of social innovation is based on a quasi-concept, where processes of innovation are absent. To restore some academic rigour to this important concept, we argue more attention need be paid to these innovation processes in social innovation, and that there is value in using innovation concepts drawn from other areas of innovation studies (disruptive innovation, innovation systems, institutional innovation and socio-technical transitions) in highlighting how small-scale social experiments can ultimately lead to the solution of pressing societal problems. Through a subtle critique of the current policy conception of social innovation, it is possible for the field of Innovation Studies in general to help provide better insights into social innovation processes and ultimately to lead to better support frameworks and interventions for promoting solutions to these Grand Challenges.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Benneworth & Effie Amanatidou & Monica Edwards Schachter & Magnus Gulbrandsen, 2015. "Social innovation futures: beyond policy panacea and conceptual ambiguity," Working Papers on Innovation Studies 20150127, Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo.
  • Handle: RePEc:tik:inowpp:20150127

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    1. repec:zbw:zewexp:175321 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Bugge, Markus & Coenen, Lars & Marques, Pedro & Morgan, Kevin, 2016. "From Social Innovation to System Innovation: Assisted living experiments in Britain and Norway," Papers in Innovation Studies 2016/16, Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy.
    3. Edwards-Schachter,Mónica & Wallace,Matthew, 2015. "‘Shaken, but not stirred’: six decades defining social innovation," INGENIO (CSIC-UPV) Working Paper Series 201504, INGENIO (CSIC-UPV).
    4. Gianluca Misuraca & Csaba Kucsera & Giulio Pasi & Dimitri Gagliardi & Fabienne Abadie, 2017. "Mapping and Analysis of ICT-enabled Social Innovation initiatives promoting social investment across the EU: IESI Knowledge Map 2016," JRC Working Papers JRC105556, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    5. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:12:p:2376-:d:123590 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Havas, Attila, 2016. "Recent economic theorising on innovation: Lessons for analysing social innovation," MPRA Paper 77385, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Cordula Ott, 2017. "Enabling Transformative Research: Lessons from the Eastern and Southern Africa Partnership Programme (1999-2015)," Challenges in Sustainability, Librello publishing house, vol. 5(1), pages 15-23.
    8. M. Bugge , Markus & Coenen, Lars & Branstad, Are, 2015. "The Roles of Governance in Co-Evolutionary and Transformative Change - The Case of Active Ageing," Papers in Innovation Studies 2015/32, Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy.

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