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Table 1 Key social innovation definitions

From: The application of social innovation in healthcare: a scoping review

Theme Author (year), reference Definition Published
Addressing social needs, through new initiatives to improve society Mumford (2002), [15] The term social innovation, as used here, refers to the generation and implementation of new ideas about how people should organize interpersonal activities, or social interactions, to meet one or more common goals Creativity Research Journal
Mulgan (2006), [16] Social innovation refers to innovative activities and services that are motivated by the goal of meeting a social need and that are predominately diffused through organizations whose primary purposes are social Innovations
Phillls et al. (2008), [17] A novel solution to a social problem that 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 Stanford Social Innovation Review
Pol and Ville (2010), [10] A desirable social innovation is one that in fact (‘in fact’ meaning ‘there is convincing evidence’) improves the macro-quality of life or extends life expectancy Journal of Socio-economics
European Commission (2011), [18] Social Innovation relates to the development of new forms of organization and interactions to respond to social issues (the process dimension). It aims at addressing (the outcome dimension): a. Social demands that are traditionally not addressed by the market or existing institutions and are directed towards vulnerable groups in society. b. Societal challenges in which the boundary between ‘social’ and ‘economic’ blurs, and which are directed towards society as a whole. The need to reform society in the direction of a more participative arena where empowerment and learning are sources and outcomes of well-being Report: Empowering people and driving change
Forms of participation, relationships and practices Howaldt et al. (2010), [19] New forms of social relations lead to innovation, which in turn leads to societal impact  
Neumeier S (2012), [20] Social innovations as changes of attitudes, behaviour or perceptions of a group of people joined in a network of aligned interests that in relation to the group’s horizon of experiences lead to new and improved ways of collaborative action within the group and beyond European Journal of Rural Sociology
Cajaiba-Santana (2014), [9] Social innovations are new social practices created from collective, intentional, and goal-oriented actions aimed at prompting social change through the reconfiguration of how social goals are accomplished Technological Forecasting & Social Change
Empowering for action Murray et al. (2010), [21] Social innovations are new ideas (products, services and models) that simultaneously meet social needs and create new social relationships or collaborations. In other words, they are innovations that are both good for society and enhance society’s capacity to act Open Book of Social Innovation
Moulaert et al. (2005 and 2013), [38, 46] Social innovation as a practice (collective satisfaction of human needs) and a process (changes in social relations, empowering governance dynamics) in local development
Social innovation refs to changes and agendas, agency and institutions that lead to better inclusion of excluded groups and individuals into various fields of societies at various spatial scales. It is very strongly a matter of process innovation of changes and the dynamics of social relations including power relations’
Urban Studies
International Handbook on Social Innovation
Institutional & systems change Westley et al. (2006, 2010), [22, 23] Social innovations are products as well as deliberative processes and policies that are transformative in their outcome with respect to building greater social resilience (Westley, Zimmerman and Patton, 2006)
Social innovation is a complex process of introducing new products, processes or programs that profoundly change the basic routines, resource and authority flows, or beliefs of the social system in which the innovation occurs. Such successful social innovations have durability and broad impact
Getting to Maybe (book)
The Public Sector Innovation Journal
van Wijk et al. (2019), [24] Social innovation for us describes the agentic, relational, situated, and multi- level process to develop, promote, and implement novel solutions to social problems in ways that are directed toward producing profound change in institutional contexts (see also Cajaiba-Santana, 2014; Lawrence, Dover, & Gallagher, 2014). We understand this process as embedded and self-reflective, and that it may be coordinated and collaborative, or that it may be the emergent product of accumulation, collective bricolage and muddling through daily work (Garud and Karnøe, 2003; Smets et al. 2012) Business & Society