Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Leadership and social innovation

An EU team studied leadership and social innovation against an austerity background. Focusing on Barcelona and New York, the study identified democratic and institutional principles that social innovation could include in order to become scalable and effective.
Leadership and social innovation
In a context of austerity, citizens are coming together to solve problems that governments cannot or will not. Yet, the organisers of such groups have paid little attention to the impact or scalability of such solutions and to accomplishing effective social change.

The EU-funded SOCRISIS (Social innovation against the crisis: How leadership practices and civic capacity improve neighbourhood development) project analysed the way two local communities address the effects of recession. The consortium studied Barcelona and New York, focusing on how socially innovative responses emerge from within the communities.

The purpose of the analysis was to foster social change and to understand the movements in terms of collective leadership theory.

The team contributed to the academic debate by posing three hypotheses. First, the group suggested that neighbourhoods with greater civic capacity produce more effective and more scalable responses. A second suggestion was that democratic forms of collective leadership also produce the same types of results. Finally, the study showed that social innovation effectively contributes to social change.

Results indicate that to be effective and scalable, social innovation should include what is necessary for success. Hence, the team recommended engaging community capacity and developing local policy processes to build capacity. Doing so should help social innovation be effective even in communities with low capacity.

The team identified three forms of democratic leadership able to make social innovation effective. Thus, leadership is also a key issue.

Researchers concluded that institutional approaches are insufficient for collective austerity-related problems. Yet, localised and grassroots solutions also fail to trigger social change. Evidence suggests a need for multi-scalar strategies for solving social problems. The team recommended a bottom-linked perspective, which combines both social and institutional innovation. Community-level initiatives would thus be linked to public institutions that assist with scalability.

The project’s outcomes clarify understanding of social change. New tools also support and foster such change.

Related information

Subjects

Life Sciences

Keywords

Leadership, social innovation, austerity, SOCRISIS, civic capacity, neighbourhood development
Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top