In much current literature on social entrepreneurship the entire focus is on the innovation and on the social value (the outcome) generated by the innovation. Social innovation is defined as “new and better ways to create social value” (Dees, 1998; 2002), or “social entrepreneurship seeks tipping points for innovation and change” (Light, 2008). In contrast to definitions that tentatively put the entire focus on the social value or end result without observing the process, Mair argues that the nature of social entrepreneurship “cannot be discussed without taking into consideration the complex set of institutional, social, economic and political factors” that make up the context of the social innovation (Mair, 2010: 26). Social innovation in its essence is a multidisciplinary phenomenon. Processes, practices and perceptions of social innovation tend to challenge not only the perception of state, market and civil society as three separate distinct spheres, but also the established scientific boundaries in academic theory as well as regulatory frameworks and support structures provided by government agencies (Evers, 2001; Hulgård, 2007; Chesbrough et al., 2008). In this article we want to argue that the outcome of a social innovation is dependent on the appropriate process. A social innovation process does not only require participation and good governance within the initiative, it can also be dependent on the wider political, administrative and organisational context. An approach combining the concepts of ideas, community and deliberative democracy theory places social innovation firmly in the intersection between societal spheres and contributes to a more comprehensive theoretical view on social innovation as an integrated model of both process and outcome.
deliberative democracy; social innovation; Habermas
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The Third EMES International Research Conference on Social Enterprise, 2011