Towards a New Definition of Social Innovation

Towards a New Definition of Social Innovation

Donatella Ettorre (Politecnico di Bari, Italy), Nicola Bellantuono (Politecnico di Bari, Italy), Barbara Scozzi (Politecnico di Bari, Italy) and Pierpaolo Pontrandolfo (Politecnico di Bari, Italy)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7332-8.ch006
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Abstract

This chapter focuses on social innovation, a topic that the literature has been increasingly discussing in the last decade. The authors revise the many available (and, to some extent, too general) definitions as well as identify the main features that have been claimed as relevant for social innovation (e.g. Mumford, 2002), which concur in providing its definition. By doing so, they pursue the assessment of a less fuzzy definition of social innovation and make a first attempt to focus on the role that companies play in developing as well as scaling social innovations. The adopted approach exploits the literature review and is based on an in-depth analysis of the definitions of social innovation: the authors collected and catalogued them, so identifying the main dimensions of analysis. Clarifying what social innovation is and the role that companies play in social innovation initiatives can increase companies' awareness of what they (can) do with respect to social innovation, possibly taking advantage of this in terms of business objectives.
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Literature Review

In the last two decades, a growing number of scholars has investigated the nature of social innovation. Literature reviews as well as pamphlets and general guides have been published (e.g. Young Foundation and NESTA, 2010; SIX, 2010). Such works use different approaches and methodologies, ranging from case studies (e.g. Mumford, 2002) to action research (e.g. Trifilova et al., 2012). The novelty and importance of social innovation is also revealed by the number of centres all over the word (Canada, Australia, USA, UK, Germany, Austria, France, New Zealand) which are studying it and by the proliferation of social innovation ‘hubs’, incubators, and networks (such as the Social Innovation Exchange – SIX).

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