Resisting social innovation: the case of neighborhood health centers in Belgium

Resistencia a la innovación social: el caso de los centros de salud en los barrios de Bélgica

  • Tuur Ghys Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon
Keywords: Social innovation, opposition, healthcare, poverty, diffusion.


The role played by powerful social groups in opposing or even halting the diffusion of social innovation is insufficiently studied regarding modern time social innovations. This is especially relevant in cases aimed at meeting social groups with few resources, such as people in poverty. This paper examines this in the case of Neighborhood Healthcare Centers in Belgium, a social innovation with potential to offer accessible care to less resourceful inhabitants. It documents how these organizations made an effort to expand but were met with sustained resistance of doctors’ associations and political opponents. It concludes that the inherent merits of social innovations which benefit vulnerable groups are insufficient to warrant their diffusion, as initiatives might run against the interests of more powerful groups.



El papel que desempeñan los grupos sociales poderosos para oponerse o incluso detener la difusión de la innovación social no está suficientemente estudiado en relación con las innovaciones sociales modernas. Esto es especialmente relevante en los casos de encuentro con grupos sociales de escasos recursos, como las personas en situación de pobreza. Este artículo examina esta situación en el caso de los Centros Vecinales de Salud en Bélgica, una innovación social con potencial para ofrecer atención accesible a los habitantes con menos recursos. El artículo documenta cómo estas organizaciones hicieron un esfuerzo por expandirse, pero se encontraron con una resistencia por parte de las asociaciones de médicos y opositores políticos. El texto concluye que los méritos inherentes de las innovaciones sociales que benefician a los grupos vulnerables son insuficientes para justificar su difusión, ya que las iniciativas podrían ir en contra de los intereses de los grupos más poderosos.

Palabras clave: innovación social, oposición; salud, pobreza, difusión.




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How to Cite
Ghys, T. (2020). Resisting social innovation: the case of neighborhood health centers in Belgium . European Public & Social Innovation Review, 5(2), 14-26. Retrieved from
Research articles