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Igniting social innovation

Gorgi Krlev, Centre for Social Investment / CSI, University of Heidelberg

Who is driving #socialchange and renewal? How do #thirdsector, #government & #business organizations compare in how much and what they contribute to #socialinnovation?

#ITSSOIN (Impact of the Third Sector as Social Innovation: has posited that non-profits would be particularly apt to produce and push #socialinnovation. A team of researchers from 11 institutions, based in 9 European countries has engaged in testing this claim. First, we identified one “social innovation stream” each, in seven fields of activity.

Social innovation stream refers to broadly recognized new social practices and models that have affected fields in a profound way, and for several years. We then engaged in “tracing” these streams to identify who contributed to making #socialchange happen and in which way.

The streams we focused on were: (1) #Arts based spatial rejuvenation; (2) New governance arrangements in social services (#telecare, #SIBs & #volunteer centres); (3) The Recovery Approach to mental health treatment, advocating #livedexperience; (4) The promotion of #bikeculture to push #sustainability; (5) #Onlineeducation for alternative financial services; (6) Cross-sector #partnerships for effective work integration; (7) Self-organized #community development for and by refugees.

Our work has underscored that #socialinnovation is a truly cooperative and #multiactor effort. #ThirdSector organizations and civic groups were important in spotting the need for action and initiating the innovation. They were also particularly strong at brokering between actors interested in the same subject and forming coalitions. However, governments and businesses were often more resourceful in spreading the innovation, developing it further, or mainstreaming it in collaboration with the early movers from #civilsociety.

The main lesson is that we need to create conditions in which actors with different missions, assets and skills can come together to tackle the #grandchallenges and #wickedproblems of our times.

Prompts on how to do this can be found in our book Social Innovation – Comparative Perspectives. Due to sponsoring by the #EuropeanCommission, it is available #openaccess!

Get in touch via or @gorgikrlev.