The International Handbook on Social Innovation
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The International Handbook on Social Innovation

Collective Action, Social Learning and Transdisciplinary Research

Edited by Frank Moulaert, Diana MacCallum, Abid Mehmood and Abdelillah Hamdouch

The contributors provide an overview of theoretical perspectives, methodologies and instructive experiences from all continents, as well as implications for collective action and policy. They argue strongly for social innovation as a key to human development. The Handbook defines social innovation as innovation in social relations within both micro and macro spheres, with the purpose of satisfying unmet or new human needs across different layers of society. It connects social innovation to empowerment dynamics, thus giving a political character to social movements and bottom-up governance initiatives. Together these should lay the foundations for a fairer, more democratic society for all.
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Chapter 2: Social innovation in governance and public management systems: toward a new paradigm?

Collective Action, Social Learning and Transdisciplinary Research

Benoît Lévesque


While the decades following the Second World War saw a proliferation of social innovations in public administration, the term ‘innovation’ as such was rarely mentioned. Instead, emphasis was placed on the main political reforms that led, among others, to the establishment of diverse types of welfare states in the developed countries, in particular through defamilialization and decommodification of public services (Esping-Andersen 1990). However, over the past two decades, reference to innovations in public administration and public services management has become more commonplace. This growing interest in social innovations can be largely explained as the outcome of reforms inspired by New Public Management (NPM), a new paradigm that emerged in the 1980s (Osborne and Gaebler 1993). In this chapter we begin by providing an overview of social innovations and show how a great number of these have in fact emerged from the new NPM approach.

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