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Social Innovation: Buzz Word Or Enduring Term?

One of the striking features of our society is the incessant urge for the creation, adoption and diffusion of innovations. Innovation takes many forms: technological, organizational, social, artistic, for example. 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 a working definition of social innovation that captures the common denominator of the existing definitions of the term. We 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. A subsidiary message of the paper –obvious, but often forgotten– is that interdisciplinary communication may be more fruitful if we realize that terminological discipline is a necessary condition in the search for improved knowledge.

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File URL: http://www.uow.edu.au/content/groups/public/@web/@commerce/@econ/documents/doc/uow042312.pdf
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Paper provided by School of Economics, University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia in its series Economics Working Papers with number wp08-09.

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Length: 19 pages
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uow:depec1:wp08-09
Contact details of provider: Postal: School of Economics, University of Wollongong, Northfields Avenue, Wollongong NSW 2522 Australia
Phone: +612 4221-3659
Fax: +612 4221-3725
Web page: http://business.uow.edu.au/econ/index.html

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  1. 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.
  2. 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, 02.
  3. 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.
  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. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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, 03.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
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