A Global Mapping of Social Innovations: Challenges of a Theory Driven Methodology

Christoph Kaletka, Antonius Schröder


The article discusses and analyses challenges, constraints and prospects of a theory driven empirical research methodology in the thematic field of Social Innovation. Based on the experiences made while conducting a global mapping of social innovation initiatives, it reflects challenges such as the different
understandings and definitions of the research field and contexts related to different policy and world regions. Starting with the approach of the EU funded international project SI-DRIVE, the challenges of theory development and its methodological operationalisation and limitations in an iterative improvement by sequential empirical mappings are discussed - combining quantitative and qualitative research and results for proving and elaborating the theoretical frame (building blocks of a Social Innovation Theory). Empirical evidence shows that the theoretical development of such a ubiquitous phenomenon needs an iterative interrelation of theory and empiricism and a multi-method approach, giving leeway for the whole variety of social innovations by simultaneously developing a common understanding and concept of Social Innovation.

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