Publication Details

This conference paper was originally published as Dawson, P & Daniel, L, Social innovation, sustainable futures and commercial concerns: people, profits and social well-being, 2nd International Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics jointly with the 12th International Conference on Human Aspects of Advanced Manufacturing (HAAMAHA), Las Vegas, US, 14-17 July 2008.


This paper draws attention to the growing interest in social innovations as they seek to improve the well being of people, communities and society. Social innovations are recognised as the development of new concepts, strategies and tools that support individuals and groups to achieve improved well-being. We examine here the growing interest in social innovation before turning our attention to more theoretical and conceptual concerns. We examine the link between the social and technical dimensions of innovation and identify how the scope of our definition is important in delineating our phenomena of interest. Some of the earlier academic work on the social shaping and social construction of technology is considered and the use of Socratic dialogue as a tool for accommodating different viewpoints in assessing processes of innovation is evaluated. We conclude by calling for more debate and discussion on this emerging theme of social innovation that links with other topical areas such as, business ethics, sustainable communities, social capital and corporate social responsibility.