In France, social innovation is closely linked with three other fields of intervention:
- the social and solidarity-based economy (économie sociale et solidaire or ESS) as the umbrella for all interventions;
- social entrepreneurship: social enterprises are businesses set up for a social, societal or environmental purpose and not aiming at profit maximisation. They seek to involve their stakeholders in their governance;
- social impact: Any organisation set up for a social purpose seeks to generate a positive social impact. Assessing the social impact plays a crucial role in the social and solidarity-based economy and the enterprises of which it consists.
The above reflects a vision of social innovation in France which is oriented towards an entrepreneurial approach, in contrast to other current definitions and practices in other countries – including other social innovations in the voluntary sector – within social movements whose aim is not to set up businesses but to support citizen projects. Although such a citizen movement also exists in France, it is still not well established in the social innovation field.