The 21st century has brought a cornucopia of new knowledge and technologies. But there has been little progress in our ability to solve social problems using social innovation – the deliberate invention of new solutions to meet social needs - across the globe.
Geoff Mulgan is a pioneer in the global field of social innovation. Building on his experience advising international governments, businesses and foundations, he explains how it provides answers to today’s global social, economic and sustainability issues. He argues for matching R&D in technology and science with a socially focused R&D and harnessing creative imagination on a larger scale than ever before.
Weaving together history, ideas, policy and practice, he shows how social innovation is now coming of age, offering a comprehensive view of what can be done to solve the global social challenges we face.
"Mulgan’s wide ranging vision and extensive experience are on display in this whirlwind tour of the prospects and challenges facing social innovators. Enjoy the ride!" Mark H. Moore, Harvard University
"This book helps us understand the crucial role of social innovation in shaping new social practices for the 21st century." Jürgen Howaldt, TU Dortmund University
"Demystifies and contextualises social innovation, showing us why we need it now, more than ever. It connects theory to practice and is a must read for anyone wanting to improve society." Louise Pulford, Social Innovation Exchange
“Based on the vast experience and insightful expertise of Geoff Mulgan, this book not only discusses the potential and limits of social innovation but, more importantly, showcases how all sectors can best embed its principles to address the most pressing challenges of our century.” Isabel Mota, President of the Board of Trustees of Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
"This book gives a wide audience what some of us have been privileged to hear from Mulgan in person: the reflections of a profound thinker who is charting new territory in social innovation, demonstrating how we can rise to the most complex challenges of our era." Stephen Huddart, President & CEO, the McConnell Foundation.
"A bold, inspiring book that will leave you smarter, more inspired, and ready to improve the world. Geoff makes a strong case for how to drive social innovations locally and globally using deep rigor and powerful examples that are vital to today’s world and to the future." Kriss Deiglmeier, CEO Tides
Geoff Mulgan is Chief Executive of Nesta, the UK's innovation foundation. Previously he has been Director of the government's Strategy Unit and Head of Policy in the Prime Minister's office, Chief Executive of The Young Foundation, Director of the think-tank Demos and Chief Adviser to Gordon Brown MP and a reporter on BBC TV and radio. He is a senior visiting scholar at Harvard University and advises governments around the world. He is the author of many books including Good and Bad Power (Penguin) and Big Mind (Princeton University Press).
Introduction: the great imbalances
I MAKING SENSE OF SOCIAL INNOVATION
What is social innovation and how is it done?
The roots of social innovation and the fragile springs of social generativity
II. CHALLENGES, ROADBLOCKS AND SYSTEMS
The political context for social innovation now: thesis, antithesis and synthesis
Structural change and new social contracts: how innovation in welfare can address changing needs
Social production systems: what is the best unit for analysis and action?
Place-based systems change: how can governments, funders and civil society achieve more together?
III. SOURCES, IDEAS AND WAYS OF SEEING
The theoretical foundations of social innovation: sources, ideas and future directions
Social science and intelligence design
Observation, interpretation and activism: sociology's role in social change
Understanding how cultures change
A theory of belonging: how do we feel at home?
The interpretation of social change
IV GOOD AND BAD SOCIAL INNOVATION
Know Your Impact (and in praise of better borrowing)
The evolution of measures that matter: how do we know if social innovation is working?
Good and bad innovation: what theory and practice do we need to distinguish them?
V SOCIAL INNOVATION AND THE FUTURE
Social innovation in the 2020s
Thinking about the future
VI FRESH THINKING