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Social Enterprises, Social Innovation and the Creative Economy

Special issue call for papers from Social Enterprise Journal


Guest Editors:
Dr Roberta Comunian (Reader, King’s College London)
Denderah Rickmers (PhD Candidate, King’s College London)
Andrea Nanetti (Associate Professor, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)

Even though social innovation in its essence is as old as mankind (Cajaiba-Santana, 2014), its academic relevance as a field of study in the social sciences has gained momentum mainly over the last decade (Edwards-Schachter & Wallace, 2017). The shortcomings of techno-capitalism as a driver of social change (Mulgan et al., 2008; Perez, 2009) has led to the rising prominence of the concept of social innovation rooted in various fields. This is now a research concerning academics from business and management studies as well as community development (van der Have and Rubalcaba, 2016) and has recently become a focus also of researchers in the arts and the wider creative economy (Upstart Co-lab, 2017).

The creative industries are per their definition linked to a constant strive for innovation and with that hold a role as a source for wider economic paradigm shifts (Potts, 2011). Furthermore, with their affinity to apply their problem-solving skills beyond their own economic sector, creative industries’ agents increasingly establish social enterprises and aim to address fundamental societal problems and needs (Jaaniste, 2009; Williams, 2017). Along with the shifting roles of the public, private and social sector (Phills et al., 2008) they can thus become trailblazers of social innovations. Novel business models and financial approaches, such as the recent interest of social finance in the creative industries (Rockefeller Foundation, 2017), can support this development further.

The arising creative-social sphere is an emerging phenomenon that this special issue aims to investigate further. Gaps in knowledge and theory concerning (1) understanding the process of the creation, legitimisation, absorption and institutionalisation of creative social enterprises to foster creative social -creative innovations and (2) creative-social enterprises, their business models, trends and challenges in general are of interest. We invite empirical and conceptual papers addressing these two broad subject areas, as well as on topics such as (and this list is not intended to be exhaustive):

  • The creative economy has formed an integral part in policy and economy debates and agenda settings in many countries in recent years. Likewise, social innovation as a process and phenomenon is widely recognized in social policy debates (Adams and Hess, 2010; DCMS,2016; UNESCO, 2018).  (How) Do the two relate, inform, overlap or hinder each other?
  • In particular what is the role of policy and institutional frameworks in support and hindering the development of a socially driven creative sector?
  • The creative industries lie outside the realm of common social enterprise domains (e.g. health, sustainability, education) that are focus of much research.  What old and new business models are adopted by creative social enterprises? (How) Does that influence their ability to attract social finance and capital?
  • Creativity and e.g. design thinking methods have developed into highly desirable skills and tools in enterprises in basically any given industry (Newbigin, 2017). What are tools that creative entrepreneurs and enterprises posses, that are relevant specifically for social enterprises and social entrepreneurs and vise versa?
  • The creative economy is dominated by micro and small and medium-sized businesses (European Commission, 2013).  Entrepreneurial expertise and business acumen is often limited. Do social entrepreneurs and enterprises poses means to address that need?

The Department for Culture, Media and Creative Industries at King’s College London (London, UK) and the School of Art, Design and Media (ADM) at Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), will jointly hold a one-day long workshop on Wednesday 21 November 2018 in Singapore ( The workshop is titled Social enterprise, social innovation & the creative economy: current knowledge and shared research agendas. The aim of the full-day workshop is to reflect on common knowledge and methodologies that intersect across three fields: social enterprises, social innovation and the creative economy. This forms part of the three-day symposium Dancing over Ideas - academic research, artistic research, and design research held on the ADM campus in Singapore from 19 – 21 November 2019. Authors interested in submitting to the special issue are warmly invited to submit an early abstract to the Singapore workshop. If you are interested in presenting, please send 500 words abstract and 250 words biographical note to by the 5th of October 2018.

Contributing authors are particularly invited to attend the workshop / symposium, yet this is not a prerequisite in contributing to the printed special issue.

The deadline for full paper submissions is 30th of March 2019. If you would like early feedback from the guest editors on draft papers, please send your draft paper to by the 31st of January 2019.

Submitted papers should follow SEJ submission guidelines ( and be written in good English to be fully considered. The submitted papers will go through the usual double-blind review process as per the guidelines of the Journal. Submissions to this special issue must be made through Social Enterprise Journal’s submission system ( When submitting your paper, please ensure that the correct Special Issue is selected from the dropdown menu on page 4 of the submission process.

Enquiries should be directed to the special issue corresponding editors:  Dr Roberta Comunian ( and Denderah Rickmers (

Adams, D., & Hess, M. (2010). Social Innovation and Why it has Policy Significance. Economic and Labour Relations Review, 21(2), 139–156.
Cajaiba-Santana, G. (2014). Social innovation: Moving the field forward. A conceptual framework. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 82(1), 42–51.
DCMS. (2016). Classifying and measuring the Creative Industries. Department for Culture, Media & Sport. London.
Edwards-Schachter, M., & Wallace, M. L. (2017a). ‘Shaken, but not stirred’: Sixty years of defining social innovation. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 119, 64–79.
European Comission. (2013). Survey on access to finance for cultural and creative sectors. Retrieved June 9, 2018, from
Jaaniste, L. (2009). Placing the creative sector within innovation: The full gamut. Innovation: Management, Policy and Practice, 11(2), 215–229.
Low, L. (2001). The Singapore developmental state in the new economy and polity. The Pacific Review, 14(3), 411–441.
Mulgan, G., Tucker, S., Ali, R., & Sanders, B. (2008). Social Innovation: What it is, why it matters and how it can be accelerated. Oxford.
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Perez, C. (2009). Technological revolutions and techno-economic paradigms. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 34(1), 185–202.
Phills Jr, J. A., Deiglmeier, K., & Miller, D. T. (2008). Rediscovering Social Innovation. Stanford Social Innovation Review, Fall, 34–43.
Potts, J. (2011). Creative Industries and Economic Evolution. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
Rao-Nicholson, R., Vorley, T., & Khan, Z. (2017). Social innovation in emerging economies: A national systems of innovation based approach. In Technological Forecasting and Social Change (pp. 228–237). Elsevier Inc.
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Upstart Co-lab. (2017). A Creativity Lens for impact investing. Upstart Co-lab.
van der Have, R. P., & Rubalcaba, L. (2016). Social innovation research: An emerging area of innovation studies? Research Policy, 45(9), 1923–1935.
Williams, G. (2017). Are Artists the New Interpreters of Scientific Innovation ? Retrieved November 5, 2017, from