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Ways of supporting social innovation

Creating the conditions for social innovation

Traditionally, the market has been seen as the primary source of innovation. This is because it has the structures, mechanisms and incentives that drive innovation. In Joseph Schumpeter’s formulation, it has the power of ‘creative destruction’, destroying the old in order to open the way for the new. Neither the state nor the third sector has the structure or incentive to innovate in this way. It is argued that they lack the mechanisms that allow the best to flourish and the less effective to wither away. The household on the other hand – that most distributed of economic systems – generates ideas but on its own lacks the capital, surplus time and organisational capacity to develop them.

In this section, we look at the incentives, structures and conditions that could enable social innovation to flourish. We look at each of the four sectors in turn.