Social innovation: an exploration of the barriers faced by innovating organizations in the social economy

Dominic Chalmers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)


Social and community-based organisations are increasingly viewed as wellsprings of valuable social innovations. Government policies, most notably David Cameron’s Big Society initiative, have entrenched the concept of localism across the UK, and the move towards smaller government has placed the onus on communities to creatively tackle their own problems. While antecedent research on social innovation has largely concentrated on success stories, few have stopped to consider the profound nature of this shift and the operational obstacles it may pose for small resource-constrained organisations. This paper seeks to contribute to current debates on social innovation by critically reviewing extant literature and proposing a model of ‘open’ social innovation. It is argued that the social innovation field will benefit by embracing the open paradigm both within the internal organisational structure of socially innovative organisations and, in the knowledge searching activities in which such ventures engage. This paper will serve as a tool to stimulate discussion around the ‘opening up’ of the social innovation process and will raise some timely questions about the efficacy of localism policy measures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-34
Number of pages18
JournalLocal Economy
Issue number1
Early online date13 Nov 2012
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013


  • social Innovation
  • social entrepreneurship
  • localism
  • open innovation


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