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The Role of Governments and Public Policies in Social Innovation Processes

Special issue call for papers from Social Enterprise Journal

The submission portal for this special issue will open August 15, 2019.

Guest Editors
Dr Artur Steiner (
Professor Josephine Barraket (
Dr Francesca Calo (
Professor Jane Farmer (
Professor Simon Teasdale (

Over the last decades, social innovation has been increasingly promoted in public policy debates as a vehicle to developing innovative and efficient solutions addressing societal needs (Sinclair and Baglioni, 2014). Social innovation has been presented as a distinctive and effective response to a welfare crisis (Caulier‐Grice et al., 2012), and is perceived in policy debates as a novel way of working that promotes collaborations between citizens and public actors, and a platform that enhances the delivery of public services (Hubert, 2010).

Despite this growing momentum in policy and public debates, social innovation remains a contested concept. Two competing paradigms of social innovation have been identified (Ayob et al., 2016; Montgomery, 2016). In the first school of thought social innovation includes any innovations which “privilege market competition, with the ‘social’ repositioned within a commodified frame and an emphasis on ‘supply and demand’ as well as the potential for increased efficiency and savings that can be made to public finances” (Montgomery et al., 2016, p.1985). The second paradigm sees social innovation as embedded in socio-cultural and political contexts (Moulaert et al. 2013). Here social innovation (as a process) embraces community participation (Montgomery, 2016), collaborations and new forms of social relations (Ziegler, 2017) that lead to societal changes (Ayob et al., 2016).

Considering the novelty of the concept, empirical research evidencing the role of governments and their policies in supporting social innovation and addressing societal needs is relatively scarce. A further relatively unexplored dimension relates to the impact of publically funded programmes aimed at enhancing social innovation. Lack of evidence on the effectiveness of public investments in social innovation represents a significant knowledge gap, yet an important area to explore to inform future policy and practice.

This call for papers is timely because social innovation is presented in international policies as a panacea to social, economic and environmental challenges. More empirical evidence about what works and what doesn’t is, however, needed. This special issue seeks to explore the significance of the role of governments and public policies in inducing social innovation processes. Focusing on the international evidence, we welcome articles situated within, but not limited to, the following themes:

  • The role of policy in supporting social innovation
  • Social innovation as a response to a welfare crisis
  • Social innovation as a governmental solution for ‘problematic’ groups and places
  • Social innovation & sustainable development
  • Co-production and co-creation through social innovation
  • The effects of different governance regimes on social innovation processes or outcomes
  • Measuring the effectiveness public programmes aiming at developing social innovation
  • Best practices leading to social innovation
  • The role of individuals and communities in supporting social innovation
  • Examples of social innovation – what works and what doesn’t?; how, why and for who?
  • Digital social innovation and public interest technology sectors
  • The ‘dark side’ of social innovation

The deadline for initial paper submissions is 15th December 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 editors: Dr Artur Steiner (, Professor Josephine Barraket (, Dr Francesca Calo (, Professor Jane Farmer (, Professor Simon Teasdale (

Ayob, N., Teasdale, S., Fagan, K., 2016. How Social Innovation ‘Came to Be’: Tracing the Evolution of a Contested Concept. Journal of Social Policy 45, 635–653.
Caulier-Grice, J., Davies, A., Patrick, R., Norman, W., 2012. Defining Social Innovation. The Young Foundation.
Hubert, A., 2010. Empowering People Driving Change - Social Innovation in the European Union. Bureau of European Policy Advisors (BEPA), Brussels.
Montgomery, T., 2016. Are Social Innovation Paradigms Incommensurable? Voluntas International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organisation 27, 1979–2000.
Moulaert, F., 2013. The International Handbook on Social Innovation: Collective Action, Social Learning and Transdisciplinary Research. Edward Elgar Publishing.
Sinclair, S., Baglioni, S., 2014. Social Innovation and Social Policy – Promises and Risks. Social Policy and Society 13, 469–476.
Ziegler, R., 2017. Social innovation as a collaborative concept. Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research 30, 388–405.