Europe: The World’s Largest Social Innovation Lab

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There is nothing like a crisis to generate action. Even the most optimistic observers accept that Europe faces monumental economic and social challenges. Small or incremental solutions simply don’t cut it. These are the perfect conditions for social innovation: Solutions are needed that transform systems, not just tinker with them. Europe has become a “living lab” for this emerging field by default – it has to urgently experiment with new ideas and processes now. So, when two Commissioners, Johannes Hahn and Laszlo Andor, from the European Commission issue a Guide to Social Innovation*, it’s worth studying.

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Social Innovation Webinars: Harvard Kennedy School

Check out these three upcoming webinars from the Harvard Kennedy School’s Power of Social Innovation Series! All are free online webinars. Registration required. Of particular interest to those social innovators working in or with goverment.

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Guest Blogger: Tim Glynn Burke on “The Power of Social Innovation”

Many thanks to Graham for allowing me to post some ideas about our new book, The Power of Social Innovation

One of the ways we introduce the book is in the context of existing literature on social entrepreneurship:

Many have written on the efforts and attributes of individual “social entrepreneurs,” a term popularized by the exceptional work of Bill Drayton of Ashoka. Notable contributions include How to Change the World by David Bornstein; The Power of Unreasonable People, by John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan; and Christopher Gergen and Gregg Vanourek’s Life Entrepreneurs. Recent books such as Forces for Good, by Leslie Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant, and The Charismatic Organization, by Shirley Sagawa and Deb Jospin, chronicle the features of high–performing organizations run by social entrepreneurs. This book builds on those insights but looks beyond entrepreneurial individuals and organizations to entrepreneurial networks and fertile communities.

In truth the books we listed are all fairly recent and fall within a narrow sliver of a young field.  The topics we write about build on much more extensive discourses in the fields of public management, nonprofit management, networked governance, social policy, urban planning, education policy, and more.

During our research we often identified some underexplored tension between government and social innovators, only to be reminded that many others had studied and written on that very topic. Continue reading