What perhaps distinguishes social innovation from any other type of innovation is its concern with effects. In other words, what difference does it make, and proponents of social innovation are upfront in what they expect to see.
For Phills et al. (2008) – a novel solution to the social problem qualifies as a social innovation only if it is “more effective, efficient, sustainable, or just than existing solutions and for which the value created accrues primarily to society as a whole rather than private individuals (Phills et al., 2008, p. 36). This effect – known as “social value” – involves creating benefits or reducing societal costs in ways that “go beyond the private gains and general benefits of market activity” (Phills et al., 2008, p. 39).
The challenge is then to work out what qualifies. Continue reading