Defining social innovation: conceptual boundaries and pitfalls

Mónica Edwards
Jueves, 11 Diciembre 2014 - 12:00

Despite we are living under the social innovation imperative, the definition of Social Innovation (SI) remains elusive and its description as 'buzzword' or 'quasi-concept' even questions the substance of the term. This seminar will present a study examining the conceptualization of SI over the last six decades in order to answer the following questions:


  1. Is it possible to identify some common 'core' meaning/s in the pluri-vocal discourses and definitions of SI constructed by scholars, practitioners and policy-makers?
  2. Which is the 'content' of the current interpretations of the SI concept?
  3. Has SI specific attributes or dimensions that enable to differentiate the 'nature' of SI from other innovation types?

Under the assumption of SI as a trans-disciplinary construct and combining an interpretative content analysis methodology with cognitive mapping techniques, the study analyzes 249 definitions of SI extracted from 2,339 documents including books, book chapters, papers, working papers, research and policy reports.

This presentation corresponds to a paper in co-authorship with Matt Wallace and Paul Benneworth. The study is linked to the project ‘Social innovation futures: beyond policy panacea and conceptual ambiguity’ (2014-2016), which is supported by the EU-SPRI Forum Exploratory grant.


Ciudad Politécnica de la Innovación
Edificio 8E, Acceso J, Planta 4ª (Sala Descubre. Cubo Rojo)
Universidad Politécnica de Valencia | Camino de Vera s/n

Breve CV del Ponente: 

Monica Edwards is research fellow at INGENIO (CSIC-UPV) since February 2008 and Lecturer of ‘Creativity and Emerging Technologies’ and ‘Sustainable Firms and Corporate Social Responsibility’ in the Master of Management of Science and Innovation. She holds a PhD in Science Education (Suma Cum Laude) from the University of Valencia and started a second doctorate in the field of innovation studies at the Polytechnic University of Valencia. Previously she obtained a Diploma on Knowledge Management, and two Bachelor degrees in Science Education and Electronic Engineering, with specialization in Electro-Medicine. 

Mónica's research interests relate to theoretical background of social innovation, collaborative innovation processes in socio-technical systems, in particular the study of novel formal and informal organizational models of collaborative innovation (Living Labs, social innovation hubs). She is currently involved in the project ‘Social innovation futures: beyond policy panacea and conceptual ambiguity’ (2014-2016), an exploratory initiative funded by the EU-spri Forum (European Forum for Studies of Policies for Research and Innovation). Monica has published either as sole author or in collaboration 35 articles in peer-reviewed journals, 17 book chapters in international editorials (McMillan, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Taylor & Francis) and participated in more than sixty international congresses and scientific meetings. She is also actively involved in research, consultancy and training activities on competences-based curricular development and sustainability education. Mónica received a prize from the Patronat Nord-Sud Foundation of the University of Valencia for her book Redes para la Paz (Networks for peace), an essay on the interrelationships between peace, environment and sustainable development published in 2007. She won the IBM award in the contest ‘Science in Action’ in 2012 with a decision-making game on climate change and in the Expo e-learning Congress in Barcelona for Mobile applications on engineering education (Aula-TIC Contest, 2007)