Academic journal article European Research Studies

The Challenge of Social Innovation: Approaches and Key Mechanisms of Development

Academic journal article European Research Studies

The Challenge of Social Innovation: Approaches and Key Mechanisms of Development

Article excerpt


The emergence of new social, environmental and demographic challenges which are of a complex multidisciplinary character and involve an increasing number of participants has driven society's increasing consciousness of the issue of social innovation worldwide, and in Russia in particular. Social innovations have a major role to play in overcoming and resolving these problems and challenges. Obviously, technologies are created within the social sphere. Innovations of all kinds, both technological and social, evolve in specific socio-economic conditions. In Russia, rapid economic growth has been the cornerstone of the country's development policy as a whole. This has lead to the emergence of relationships and interdependencies between the main actors within the socio-economic system in the absence of relevant societal institutions and structures.

Evidently, the development of a modern economy, in creating new ways of organizing socio-economic systems, actualizes the need for new economic policies. In particular, one feature of governmental economic policy in countries with advanced economies is the close intertwining of social and economic processes that reflects their objective interdependence with the development of economic systems. At the same time, an optimal balance between the economic and social parameters of policy can be determined by researchers based on analysis of the process of social reproduction as it occurs in the context of the appropriate macroeconomic system. The primary source of development is the improvement of production based on science and innovation, which has a clear social orientation due to the fact that it presupposes that individuals within a society are given full opportunities to develop, improve their skills, and access creative possibilities for the making and implementation of scientific and technological innovations. The issues of social development in the conditions of the "new economy" are not only outcomes, but also factors of economic development (Ackerman, 2011).

As noted by K. Polanyi (1995), "economic processes [when] separate from society dominate social relations instead of being regulated to benefit societal needs". Polanyi argues that whilst the economy is no longer embedded in social relations, social relations are still embedded in the economic system. The emergence and development of socio-economic structures is determined by the economy. As is well known, the development of economic innovation leads to the creation of added value. This has been in the limelight of the Russian government's agenda and has generated intense discussion, leading to the necessary financial, infrastructural and institutional support over the years. At the same time, social innovations leading to the appearance of social facts--practices, norms, rules, etc.--have for a long time not been recognized as significant.

Thus, for social innovation to slowly gain strength and recognition requires a revision of the common approaches to innovative development. Social and economic innovations, as well as indicators of their effectiveness, should be considered within a single context. Hence, the implementation of innovation management processes should be accompanied by a simultaneous superposition of collaboration processes and mutual complementarity in the functioning of the main actors of the innovation system. This should take place, as a rule, coherently with the growth of public confidence in the government's decisions, democratization, the development of civil society and the reduction of corruption.

In the literature on social innovation, the main topics of discussion are issues of financial and public support for social entrepreneurs, the need to develop financial instruments to support social innovation and capital markets, and so-called hybrid forms of organizational structures to support social innovation, raise awareness, and improve the understanding of social innovation (Dees, 2010; Domenico et al. …

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