Social Innovation Policy in the European Union

Alex Nicholls, Daniel Edmiston

Research output: Chapter in BookChapterResearchpeer-review


In recent years, social innovation has become an increasingly prominent concept employed by political leaders and administrations across the world. In 2003, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) supported a range of initiatives and research to promote inclusive entrepreneurship and ‘improve social cohesion through the identification and dissemination of local innovations’. In 2009, President Barack Obama established the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation to support cross-sectoral, bottom-up solutions to social problems and challenges in the USA. In Europe, social innovation has proved to be equally conspicuous in pan-European strategies and domestic policies. Innovation has been of enduring interest and concern for European Union (EU) policy for many years (Borzaga and Bodini 2014), but since the late 1990s social innovation in particular has captured the political interest of supranational organisations and domestic actors (Pol and Ville 2009; Grisolia and Ferragina 2015). In the EU, social innovation has been posited as a solution to both old and new social risks at a time of heightened uncertainty and pressure on public administrations and finances (Bonoli 2005; OECD 2011; Sinclair and Baglioni 2014). It seems clear that this considerable interest in social innovation has been intimately linked to the Great Recession, structural unemployment and the social challenges arising as a result (European Commission 2014a). Indeed, a key feature of the Europe 2020 strategy was to facilitate and embed social innovation across Europe to ‘deliver the kind of inclusive and sustainable social market economy we all want to live in’ (BEPA 2010: 16).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPolicy Design of the European Union
Subtitle of host publicationAn Empire of Shopkeepers in the Making?
EditorsRisto Heiskala, Jari Aro
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan Cham
Number of pages32
ISBN (Print)9783319648484
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jan 2018

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in European Political Sociology


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