‘[...]Social innovation can be defined as new responses to pressing social demands, which affect the process of social interactions: It is aimed at improving human well-being. Among other recent definition, the suggestion made in the study comissioned for this report is short and universal: Social innovations are innovations that are social in both their ends and their means. It is complemented by the following: Specifically, we define social innovations as new ideas (products, services and models) that simultaneously meet social needs (more effectively than alternatives) and create new social relationships or collaborations. In other words they are innovations that are not only good for society but also enhance society’s capacity to act[...].”
For more information on Social Innovation see the BEPA report: http://ec.europa.eu/bepa/pdf/publications_pdf/social_innovation.pdf
Innovating innovation by research — 100 years after Schumpeter
100 years after Schumpeter’s seminal publication “Theory of Economic Development” the basics of his analysis of entrepreneurial innovation are still valid and embodied in the methodology of the so-called “Oslo Manual” (OECD/Eurostat 2005, p. 29). However, these definitions and respective indicators are neither applied to sectors like civil society organisations, administrative units of states or regional authorities, nor do they include specific notions of particular social innovations.
It is a very recent phenomenon that social aspects of technology based business innovations, and the relevance of social innovations as such receive a sharp increase of attention in politics, science, and enterprises as well.
The current debate on social innovation necessitates a broader generic concept of innovation, in order to render possible the identification of similarities and differences between the existing and shifting variety of innovations taking place throughout society. E.g. social innovations are distinct from technological innovations inasmuch intended purpose and objectives differ, notwithstanding outcomes (e.g. improving economic performance) may overlap.
Every innovation has an “expiry date”, which appears to be a notable affinity between technological and social innovations. As soon as a new technology or effective social practice becomes integrated in everyday life of the majority of people, groupings or institutions concerned, its specific character of novelty and innovativeness ceases: It has got its market share – in case of an entrepreneurial innovation as identified by Schumpeter in the early years of the 20th century. Or, in case of social innovation, it has been implemented to meet a social challenge and gained recognition in society, resulting in more or less impact. Yet constantly new demands and challenges appear, calling for further efforts to create innovations and, as one of the rising future research topics in social sciences: Life cycle analysis of innovations ranging from new technologies, marketing and organisational innovation in business, on to social innovations in private, public and civil society sectors.
Theoretical considerations, practical experience and empirical case studies pertaining to such research issues will be presented and discussed among scientific experts, stakeholders from practice aiming at the generation and dissemination of knowledge on social innovation and its role in a new, more holistic comprehension of innovation.
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