Analysing, Understanding and Shaping Social Innovation

Friday, 3 July 2015: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
TW1.3.01 (Tower One)
Giesecke Susanne, Austrian Institute of Technology, Vienna, Austria
Technological innovation has been identified as one of the most important drivers of progress, economic growth and well-being in the last decades (Nelson and Winter 1982, Dosi 1984, Metcalfe 1997). Recently, the phenomenon of social innovation has been identified as an important factor, too, reaching almost the same significance as technological innovation (Nicholls and Murdoch 2011). Interestingly, in many cases both technological and social innovation go hand in hand. What is more, technological and social innovation experience similar phases of developments and life cycles.

In this paper we want to show the co-development and at the same time the contrasting dynamics of technological and social innovation. The recognition of social innovation though is less connected to economic growth than to networks, resilience and well-being (Westley 2013). Such notions gain more popularity as the credo of unlimited economic growth stimulated by technological innovation shows unequivocal signs of failure. The question is if and how the two (technological and social innovation) fit together and what we can learn from the study of technological innovation to influence the positive outcomes of social innovation. To do this, we will utilise a life-cycle-approach, helping to analyse how an innovation starts from a niche position, becomes a regime and finally reaches the status of a “landscape” or social transformation (Geels and Schot 2007).

For a more adequate analysis of such research topics we will take a look at a long-term case study: social housing over the last one hundred years. Especially in the city of Vienna this case is a good example of social transformation, and today still determins to a large degree the integration policy of the city. The case also relates to technological innovation, at the beginning born out of sheer dispair (e.g. (1) rationalisation in built construction and construction material, household technologies). By the same token, the focus will be on the significance of this case to build resilience within its specific social context and against the laws of the market economy. Thus the theoretical part of this paper will not only discuss the relations between technological, organisational and social innovation but also how to govern social innovation in order to build a more resilient society, especially improving the living situation of marginalized groups in our society - in the past, the present and the future.

Findings presented in this paper are for the most part based on an ongoing FP7 research project on “Creating Economic Space for Social Innovation” – CRESSI.