Inderscience Publishers

Understanding social innovation: a provisional framework

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This article examines what we understand by the concept of social innovation. Historically, the emphasis has been on how to translate innovations in science and technology into commercial applications. Typically, company survival is explained in terms of an ‘innovation imperative’ in the pursuit of profits and competitive advantage. In contrast, social innovations are triggered by an interest in improving the well-being of people in society. Social rather than economic concerns are the main driver in the development and application of new ideas to solving problems and improving social conditions. We examine the relationship between social, business and technical dimensions and develop a provisional framework for making sense of social innovation.

Keywords: social innovation, sustainability, change, social capital, corporate social responsibility, CSR, social entrepreneurship, Socratic dialogue

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