An empirical investigation of social innovation initiatives for sustainable urban development

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Sustainable Cities and Society, ISSN: 2210-6707, Vol: 33, Page: 113-125

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Margarita Angelidou; Artemis Psaltoglou
Elsevier BV
Social Sciences; Engineering; Energy
article description
Recent literature on social innovation highlights its conceptual ambiguity and emphasizes how technology has contributed to the renovation of this 200 year old practice, calling for more sector-specific research. Addressing this call, this paper examines how social innovation fits in the urban sustainability discourse and in what way it empowers urban citizens and their communities towards serving their interests. The findings with respect to 29 cases of social innovation initiatives for environmental sustainability across 9 domains suggest that a large spectrum of sustainability challenges and topics are addressed by existing initiatives, which in turn can refer to different urban spatialities. For each initiative we examine the social innovation process, focusing on the types of involved organizations, the underlying innovation mechanisms as well as the use of technology. In terms of citizen empowerment, we examine the empowerment mode, the main beneficiaries of the innovation, as well as the specific outcome of the initiative. Following this analysis, we arrive to the identification and description of four primary citizen profiles in social innovation for sustainable urban development. We close by calling for further research into the perception, behavior and needs that are associated with the identified citizen profiles and their communities.