This report examines how social innovation happens in NGOs, the public sector, movements, networks and markets. It presents an analysis of the history, the theory and the process, paving a way for social innovation to play an increasingly significant role in society.

This report examines the growing importance of social innovation and how we can improve societies’ capacities to solve their problems. It looks at the history of great social innovators from Robert Owen to Wangari Maathai and at what can be learned from research in related fields, including science and technology, design, social enterprise and public policy.

It makes the case for much more systematic initiatives to tap the ubiquitous intelligence that exists in every society and shows the practical ways in which successful social innovation can be accelerated.

This third edition represented a work in progress and we are grateful to the team at Said Business School in Oxford for earlier inputs and for enabling us to share it with the participants in their world forum on social entrepreneurship.

Social innovation

Posted on: 1 March 2007 Authors: Ben Sanders, Geoff Mulgan, Rushanara Ali, Simon Tucker,


Community research

We are a not-for-profit tackling societal issues with a collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach.

Contact our team

Social innovation

Involving people from diverse sectors to shape game-changing initiatives.

Find out more