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Peter R. A. Oeij, Steven Dhondt, and Ton Korver

Social innovation is becoming a core value of the EU flagship initiative Innovation Union, but it is not clearly demarcated as it covers a wide field of topics. To understand social innovation within European policymaking a brief outline is given of EC policy developments on innovation and on workplace innovation. Definitions of social innovation formulated at the societal level and the organizational or workplace level are discussed. Empirical research findings of workplace innovation in the Netherlands are presented as examples showing that workplace innovation activities boost organizational performance. The article explores the relation between workplace innovation and social innovation, and concludes that policy developments in the EU can be studied with the theory of social quality, provided that the latter in its empirical approach focuses on how individuals together constitute innovations.

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Benoît Godin

To scholars, the concept of innovation is intimately linked to science and industry. But this is a very recent story. Before the twentieth century, the concept was mainly used in religious and political affairs. The concept had a pejorative meaning

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Investing in Workplace Innovation Pays Off for SMEs

A Regional Innovation Initiative from the Netherlands

Peter Oeij, Ernest de Vroome, Astrid Bolland, Rob Gründemann, and Lex van Teeffelen

From 2009 to 2013 the workplace innovation project “My Enterprise 2.0” was carried out in the region of Utrecht in the Netherlands in order to strengthen the workplace innovation capability of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Participating enterprises completed a questionnaire regarding the “workplace innovativeness” of their company. A workplace innovation intervention was then implemented by some of the companies, while other companies chose not to take part. At the end of the project, a second questionnaire indicated that those companies that implemented interventions had a significantly higher score with regard to overall workplace innovativeness. The companies without such interventions reported a small decrease. While the companies in the region had higher workplace innovativeness scores relative to a national reference group both before and after the project, the increase in the “workplace innovativeness” of the regional SMEs that experienced interventions suggests that the project proved beneficial to their continued “workplace innovativeness.” Moreover, these companies also reported positive effects on company performance, achieving company goals and improving labor productivity.

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A Study in the Rehabilitation of a Concept

Benoît Godin

For centuries, innovation was a political and contested concept and linguistic weapon used against one's enemy. To support their case, opponents of innovation made use of arguments from ethos and pathos to give power and sustenance to their criticisms and to challenge the innovators. However, since the nineteenth century the arguments have changed completely. Innovation gradually got rehabilitated. This article looks at one type of rehabilitation: the semantic rehabilitation. People started to reread history and to redescribe what innovation is. What was bad innovation became good innovation because of long-lasting and beneficial effects, so it was believed.

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Peter Scholten

Policy innovation is necessary for many environmental issues such as climate change and water management. Highly motivated individuals, who are both willing and able to take the lead and press home innovative proposals and as such transform existing policy, are vital in this process. This article focuses on such individuals. An exploration of the literature is confronted with the findings of an empirical study among local policy makers with a reputation for daring. The result is a conceptual map that can be used to further explore and understand the role of leadership and particularly daring decision making in environmental policy innovation.

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Shobita Parthasarathy

COVID-19 has shown the world that public policies tend to benefit the most privileged among us, and innovation policy is no exception. While the US government’s approach to innovation—research funding and patent policies and programs that value scientists’ and private sector freedoms—has been copied around the world due to its apparent success, I argue that it has hurt poor and marginalized communities. It has limited our understanding of health disparities and how to address them, and hampered access to essential technologies due to both lack of coordination and high cost. Fair and equal treatment of vulnerable citizens requires sensitive and dedicated policies that attend explicitly to the fact that the benefits of innovation do not simply trickle down.

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Social Innovation, Local Governance and Social Quality

The Case of Intersectoral Collaboration in Hangzhou City

Yong Li, Ying Sun, and Ka Lin

In contemporary European policy discussion, “innovation“ is a term popularly used for finding responses to the pressure of global competition. In various forms of innovation, the accent is mainly given to technical and business innovation but less to social innovation. This article studies the issue of social innovation with reference to the local practice in Hangzhou city, which aims to strengthen the life quality of citizens in this city. These practices develop various forms of inter-sectoral collaboration, resulting in numerous "common denominator subject" (CDS) groups that are promoted by the local government. These practices follow the principles of cooperation and partnership, and thus develop a corporatist mechanism for urban development. Through discussion of these practices this article explores the nature and the features of these CDS groups, and evaluates its meaning for social innovation, local administration, life quality and social quality.

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The Europeanization of Citizenship

Conceptual Innovations, Legal Changes, and Development of New Institutional Practices

Claudia Wiesner

The development of citizenship in the framework of European integration has been marked by conceptual innovations. This article concentrates on three of its elements: antidiscrimination rights, the concept of Union Citizenship, and the right to free movement. In these cases, either concepts were newly coined, or already-established concepts were newly interpreted in the context of the European Union by the European Commission or by the Council. In a second step, they were then incorporated into new EU citizenship laws and then transferred into national legislation and national political and administrative practice. During the implementation phase in the member states, the innovations often led to conflicts related to the interpretation of the new concepts in political and administrative practice. The article discusses the related processes as a pattern of conceptual innovation by law making that is typical for the EU.

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Policy innovation, regional integration and sustainable democracy-building

The Millennium Development Goals as challenges and vehicles?

Cristina Blanco Sío-López

English abstract: This Special Issue aims to interconnect policy innovation, regional integration and sustainable democracy building with a view to providing socio-politically empowering insights in the midst of an acute global crisis of self-definition. It also aspires to contribute to a clearer elucidation of how to regionally respond to intertwined multilevel challenges and to search for alternative systemic paradigms in a context marked by an increasing combination of questioning and resilience. Furthermore, it focuses on the case study of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as both challenges and vehicles to achieve a fruitful retroactive cycle between a growingly interdependent set of determinant variables: socially thoughtful policy innovation mechanisms at the global level; the socioeconomic cohesion-enhancing potentialities of regional integration experiences; the evolution and outcomes of transitional politics in post-conflict states; a positive intertwining of new approaches to diplomacy and to development policy and the quality of democratic global governance.

Spanish abstract: Este número monográfico tiene como objetivo la interconexión de las dimensiones complementarias de investigación y de implementación de la innovación política, la integración regional y la construcción democrática sostenible con el fin de proporcionar ideas de hondo calado sociopolítico que permitan hacer frente a una aguda crisis de autodefinición. En este sentido, aspira también a contribuir a una elucidación más clara sobre los modos de responder regionalmente a desafíos interdependientes y a múltiples niveles y sobre la búsqueda de paradigmas sistémicos alternativos en un contexto marcado por una creciente combinación de cuestionamiento y resistencia. Por otra parte, se centra también en el caso de los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio (ODM) como desafíos y vehículos para lograr un enriquecedor ciclo retroactivo entre un conjunto crecientemente interdependiente de variables fundamentales: mecanismos de innovación en política social a nivel mundial; la cohesión socioeconómica como herramienta para profundizar y desarrollar experiencias de integración regional; la evolución y resultados de la política de transición a la democracia en estados post-conflicto; una interacción positiva de nuevos enfoques a nivel de diplomacia pública y de políticas de desarrollo y, por último pero no menos importante, la calidad de la gobernanza global democrática. En efecto, tal enfoque combinado espera ser útil para ilustrar el hecho de que los ODM no han de ser vistos como un conjunto de indicadores parciales, sino como objetivos profundamente interconectados y capaces de reforzarse mutuamente.

French abstract: Ce numéro spécial vise à interconnecter l'innovation politique, l'intégration régionale et le renforcement de la démocratie durable en vue de fournir des idées pour une autonomisation sociopolitique dans un moment de crise aiguë d'autodéfinition. À cet égard, il aspire à apporter des éclaircissements pour répondre régionalement à des défis multiniveaux et à proposer des paradigmes systémiques alternatifs dans un contexte marqué par une combinaison accrue du questionnement et de la résilience. De plus, il met également l'accent sur l'étude des Objectifs du Millénaire pour le développement (OMD) — à la fois comme des défis et comme des véhicules — pour obtenir un cycle rétroactif fructueux entre un ensemble de variables de plus en plus interdépendantes : les mécanismes d'innovation politique socialement projetés à l'échelle mondiale ; les potentialités améliorées de cohésion socio-économique pour développer les expériences d'intégration régionale ; l'évolution et les résultats de la transition politique dans les pays post-conflit ; un entrelacement positif de nouvelles approches en matière diplomatique et de politique de développement et, finalement, la qualité de la gouvernance mondiale démocratique. En effet, une telle approche combinée aspire à être utile pour illustrer le fait que les OMD ne devraient pas être considérés comme une collection d'indicateurs distincts, mais comme des objectifs profondément interconnectés et susceptibles de se renforcer mutuellement.

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The historical anthropology of thought

Jean-Pierre Vernant and intellectual innovation in ancient Greece

S. C. Humphreys

This article illustrates the need for a historical anthropology of the longue durée, dealing with pre-modern societies, by analyzing the work of Jean-Pierre Vernant on the development of thought in ancient Greece. Vernant's anthropologies began with Marx and the historical psychologist Ignace Meyerson; he was influenced by the Durkheimian Louis Gernet and later by Lévi-Strauss. His early interest in relating Greek rationality to social organization led him increasingly into work on Greek religion and tragedy. This article builds on his work by studying the social contexts of communication that facilitated the proposal and elaboration of unconventional ideas.