Special Issue European Public and Social Innovation Review

What are the main methodological challenges in SI research, and how can they be addressed? These are the underlying basic questions that are addressed by a recent special issue of the European Public and Social Innovation Review.

Recent years have seen substantial efforts towards theory-building and conceptual clarification of social innovation research. These efforts contributed to a further consolidation of social innovation as a research field. Taking a related angle, this special issue puts the spotlight on the underlying methodologies and logics of inquiry.

The special issue features eight contributions from the main methodological orientations in social innovation research, namely systematic knowledge development and action-oriented research. Contributions come from leading social innovation scholars from different research backgrounds – including those connected to major EU-funded research project on social innovation – such as the DRIFT-led TRANSIT project or the SI-DRIVE project. Each contribution discusses particular methodological challenges and advances. Think about the need to address the essentially contested character of the concept of social innovation, the fluidity of units of analysis as well as the commitment to make the plurality of the voices of those involved in social innovation heard.

The editorial synthesis by DRIFTERs Julia Wittmayer and Flor Avelino together with colleagues from the Université Libre Brussels, Bonno Pel and Tom Bauler, takes stock and elicits the broader significance of these contributions for social innovation research. It discusses the contributions along the normative, temporal and comparative dimensions of methodology choices, which are salient to social innovation research without being tied to any specific methodological tradition. As such, these witness the editors’ commitment to transcend the methodologica
l fragmentation of the social innovation research field and open up a methodological discussion through a methodologically pluralist stance.

Wittmayer, J.M., Pel, B., Bauler, T. & F. Avelino (2017) Editorial Synthesis: Methodological challenges in social innovation research. European Public and Social Innovation Review. 2(1): 1-16.

January 11, 2018