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Systemising social innovation initiatives and their regional context in Europe


  • Wintjes, Rene

    (UNU-MERIT, and SBE, Maastricht University)

  • Es-Sadki, Nordine

    (UNU-MERIT, and SBE, Maastricht University)

  • Notten, Ad



Social innovation can be seen as new combinations of social, economic and political capital (resources and capabilities)1. In social innovation initiatives actors with different capabilities cooperate and function as systems of innovation. The various actors (from the social, economic and/or political domain) contribute and benefit in different tangible and intangible ways. As producers and users of solutions for societal problems they co-create value for society. The paper aims for insights in the economic outcomes of social innovation. We argue that social innovation can be seen as an investment, rather than a cost. For 55 social innovation initiatives across Europe we identify economic outcomes for the various actors, and the sustainability of the initiative. Since social innovation is context-dependent, and because the regional situation concerning social innovation differs across the EU, we also systemise the regional context in which the social innovation initiatives have emerged. The results support the idea that social innovation generates economic as well as complementary social benefits. Four types of regional systems of social innovation can be identified. It helps explain why regions as different contexts induce different social innovation initiatives and economic outcomes.

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  • Wintjes, Rene & Es-Sadki, Nordine & Notten, Ad, 2019. "Systemising social innovation initiatives and their regional context in Europe," MERIT Working Papers 2019-050, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  • Handle: RePEc:unm:unumer:2019050

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    1. Nomaler, Onder & Verspagen, Bart, 2019. "Greentech homophily and path dependence in a large patent citation network," MERIT Working Papers 2019-051, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).

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    More about this item


    social innovation; indicators; outcome; regions; measurement; innovation systems;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O35 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Social Innovation
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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