Social Innovation – An Exploration of the Literature

The group saw a social innovation as a significant, creative, and sustainable shift in the way that a given society dealt with a profound and previously intractable problem such as poverty, disease, violence, or environmental deterioration. Here are some of the most important themes around which the group organized its thinking:

• Complexity ~ the properties and patterns inherent in complex adaptive systems.
• The connectionsbetween micro-level interactions and macro -level patterns of institutional change.
• The high degree to which both societal problems and their solutions are socially constructed rather than technically, objectively given.
• The assumption that social innovation is not the purview of a particular sector and that to think exclusively along sectoral lines is misleading. Most of the literature on social change tends to focus in one way or another on the not-for-profit sector or on the government sector.
• The assumption that, though organizations often play an important role in social change, to focus exclusively On organizations would be as limiting and deceptive as focusing on sectors.
• The belief that confronting paradox is not only inevitable but invaluable when exploring social systems and social change.
• The understanding that perhaps the central paradox involved in social innovation is the relationship between intention and emergence. How do “leaders” involve themselves in change in complex, unpredictable and ultimately un-“manageable” systems?


About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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