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September 24, 2015

Research Needed on Local Social Innovation

Research Needed on Local Social Innovation

Although society expects a lot from social innovation, it knows very little about what exactly it has to offer or what government can do to encourage it.

So concludes a study by Luleå Technical University (LTU), which recently sent a survey to Swedish universities in an effort to map research and R&D projects about social innovation. “The scientific knowledge about social innovation is still limited, and there are only a few completed studies in Europe and the rest of the world,” LTU’s report concludes.

The report catalogues a total of 30 scientific studies and 20 R&D-related projects in social innovation, all listed in the link below. Despite all this research, it doesn’t fulfil society’s need for an extended knowledge base on social innovation.

One of the research publications listed is the edited volume Social Innovation in the Urban Context (Brandsen, Cattacin, Evers and Zimmer) is due for release by Springer Books in early 2016. Summing up a project finished in 2013, the publication supports the conclusions from the LTE survey: “New ideas and approaches are needed to tackle the severe and wicked problems with which contemporary societies are struggling,” the authors write in the book’s abstract. “Especially in times of economic crisis, social innovation is regarded as one of the crucial elements needed to move forward.” The authors call for more systematic analysis of how both sector-specific and general projects and processes affect society.

A big demand exists for studies about local projects and processes of social innovation, as well as a synthesis that gives a more general view of how social innovation contributes to cities and society. Studies should identify the obstacles and opportunities inherent in current organisational structures in Europe.  

The full list of Swedish research publications and projects on social innovation is available on this PDF.