Plenary Session

Mapping Social Innovation: Global perspectives

Jürgen Howaldt and Antonius Schröder, Sozialforschungsstelle Dortmund, TU Dortmund University, Germany, present findings from the large-scale global research project SI-DRIVE - Social Innovation: Driving Force of Social Change, funded within the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission.

Abstract | Social innovation and new pathways to social change – first insights from the global mapping

The importance of social innovation in successfully addressing social, economic, political and environmental challenges of the 21st century is recognised not only within the Europe 2020 strategy but also on a global scale. However, despite this growing awareness of the significance of social innovation, there is still no sustained and systematic analysis of social innovation, its theories, characteristics and impacts. As a novel approach to address complex problems in global health, social care, education, energy, and environmental policies, social innovation has been embraced by stakeholders and communities on the local, regional and even national level.

But what are the conditions under which social innovations flourish? Who are the stakeholders? How do social innovations diffuse and lead to social change? What are the success factors for assessing social innovations in communities, cities, regions, and states?

In light of the increasing importance of social innovation the paper looks at the theoretical concepts, areas of empirical research and observable trends in the field of social innovation on a global scale. On the basis of the first theoretical and empirical results the global research project SI-DRIVE gives an overview of the current situation and the perspectives of social innovation research.

Based on the results and indicators of a first theoretical review SI-DRIVE conducted a global mapping of more than 1.000 Social Innovation cases in 12 major world regions giving a novel empirical ground for the analysis of the regional priorities, addressed societal challenges, objectives and concepts, actors and governance, drivers and barriers, and diffusion.

Prof. Dr. Jürgen Howaldt, Director of Sozialforschungsstelle Dortmund, TU Dortmund University and professor at the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences. He is an internationally renowned expert in the field of social innovation. He has consulted German as well as European policy-makers and has also presented his concept of social innovation in all parts of the world. In 2011 he was one of the organizers of the international conference “Challenge Social Innovation” in Vienna. Member of the Science Forum Ruhr; Affiliate of SIERC (Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research Centre, Massey University, New Zealand); Co-founder of the European School of Social Innovation; Expert of the German Federal Chancellor’s Dialog for the Future; Scientific Coordinator of the global research project SI-DRIVE, funded within the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission.

Antonius Schröder is a senior researcher at Technische Universität Dortmund and member of management board of the Sozialforschungsstelle sfs (central scientific unit of the University of Dortmund), responsible for international research. He is the coordinator of the European funded 7th Framework large scale project SI-DRIVE - Social Innovation: Driving Force of Social Change and has worked in and managed several European projects (mainly in the Lifelong Learning Program). He is Vice-Chairman of Working Group People within the European Steel Technology Platform ESTEP and the Chair of the senate of the German Sociologists Association BDS.

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