Collaborative Governance for Social Innovation
What is social innovation, and what is behind the interest in the phenomenon? In this chapter, we seek to develop a geographically nuanced definition of social innovation that is conceptually useful in the contemporary global context. The chapter includes an overview of the debates on social innovation, which primarily relies on evidence from the Global North where the imperatives are state devolution, privatization, and austerity measures. Social innovation in the Global South differs in features, orientations and emphases due to its distinctive context, including instances of state failure. We also discuss controversies over social innovation, and how competing paradigms conceptualize knowledge resources for social innovation as market intelligence for corporations on the one hand, and community assets for empowerment on the other.
The term “social innovation” warrants some specificity. Simply put, social innovation refers to innovation for social change (Michelini, 2012), designed to satisfy unmet social needs (Van Dyck & Van den Broeck, 2013). Following this definition, social innovation is an outcome of the juxtaposition of social mission with market logic, and enacted either by, or in collaboration with, the private sector.
Long before the term social innovation became popular, Moulaert et al. (2013) discuss how Drucker (1987) defined social innovation, as “innovation in meeting social needs of, or delivering social benefits to, communities” and conceptualized it broadly as institutional design that generates social benefits. To Drucker, social innovation in the nineteenth century was primarily led by the state (e.g. the social...
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