With numerous intractable problems facing the world today, calls for innovative solutions have become increasingly commonplace. Frequently, these calls are accompanied by suggestions that government policies need to be responsive, flexible, and adaptive to keep pace with the rapidity of changes taking place across the social, ecological, and economic spheres. This thinking has long been encouraged around technical innovation. Is social innovation different? With a range of policy instruments available as options, which are best suited to facilitate social innovation and address complex problems? Our answer is that there are four phases to any social innovation process, and different policies are needed for each phase.
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