Sub-theme 1.1. Social enterprise and social innovation

Sub-theme 1.1. Social enterprise and social innovation

In order to move beyond the state of the art in social innovation and social enterprise research, the objective of this sub-theme is to analyze what the literature on social innovation brings to the theorization of social enterprise.

A key insight of the social innovation literature is to analyze it both from an outcome perspective—to answer pressing social demands—and from a process perspective, as social innovation is required to meet certain standards of democratic governance and participation by involving and empowering citizens. In this light, social innovation creates social value by providing novel solutions to unsolved societal challenges through participatory and empowering processes.

This association of social innovation and mission-driven organizations is at the heart of the literature around social enterprise and social entrepreneurship. The criterion of innovation is explicitly or implicitly included in the notions of social enterprise and social entrepreneurship, since these notions concern the development of new approaches to social needs through initiatives focused on social aims.

However, the literatures on social enterprise and social innovation still remain unconnected to a large extent. This sub-theme aims to fill this scientific gap through conceptual analysis connecting different streams of literature.