The challenge of articulating social innovation projects from the public administration – Tatiana Fernández

Territorial innovation infography: co-design and co-creation of new solutions to societal challenges

  1. Social innovation in the public administration

Social innovation is a way of responding to societal challenges from the perspective of a systemic process in which the public administration collaborates with other players (companies, universities, civil society, etc.). Social innovation aims to generate incremental changes in human attitudes and behaviours and in relations and the distribution of power between different organisations and groups. The central elements in social innovation are processes of empowering people and collective learning, and the results are more effective public policy and improved quality of life for citizens.

The process of social innovation in the public administration involves the following four elements:

  • A process beginning with the identification of a complex social challenge with multiple dimensions in a particular environment. The challenge has various interdependent causes, and responses to it require a systemic approach that focuses on the relations between all the stakeholders involved and on making progress towards common goals.
  • A search is made for innovative, collaborative solutions that can contribute to meeting the societal challenge and generate value for society. These solutions often take the shape of services and new or improved processes, which are developed through innovative forms of interaction and collaboration among the different players in the quadrupole helix (government, companies, universities and, especially, civil society, as the final beneficiary) involved in the challenge. The solutions are not necessarily completely new, but they must be new within the context in which they are proposed.
  • Pilot projects, which are implemented and tested on a small scale, accompanied by a participatory monitoring system to measure the results and impact on the challenge.
  • If the solutions tested are effective, they can be implemented on a larger scale or be adapted and reproduced in other territories. 

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