Going Beyond GDP: The Role of Social Innovation in Building a New Welfare State

15 Nov , 2016  

Measurement and content of economic development has been subject of intensive discussion among economists. More recently, tremendous changes in economic, social and technical areas during the last decades make it inevitable to seek new approaches to face the new challenges -let’s call it Grand Challenges- and provide sufficient and sustainable well-being to societies. On the other hand, it is becoming evident that well-being which encompassing sustainability and social progress in addition to traditional productivity-production-income-wealth considerations, is much wider than being measured by GDP and its growth.

Content and motivation of economic development has been one of the subjects of intensive discussions. Focus of the countries is gradually shifting from GDP-led growth to sustainability and social progress focused development. It is obvious that there are various driving forces which resulted in pressing need for a comprehensive transition. Shifting focus of economies to greener form of production, engagement of cities throughout the world in the promotion and pursuit of climate mitigating activities, growing attention on ecological developments are some of the illustrative cases of big shifts.

A redirection towards well-being with a view to produce lasting social and economic vitality for the global civilization necessitates moving from conventional economic methods towards innovative solutions which are necessary to face the challenges of the future and foster growth that is sustainable.

However, the challenge is, how to realize this “redirection towards sustainability and well-being” with conventional methods whereas those “conventional” methods are falling short to propose a up-to-date solutions and to a great extent responsible for the current outcomes. Innovative solutions are necessary to face with the challenges of the future and foster sustainable growth.

The quest towards understanding how to increase the role of civil society in solving social problems, creating new institutions, new norms, new roles, thus sustaining and improving the wellbeing of the people beyond increasing the monetary term welfare has triggered the interest in social innovation.

Social innovation and its agents can be considered as a toolbox which may facilitate a transition by positively influencing wellbeing, developing ways of integrating it into policy and promoting it as an alternative measure of progress.

By providing up-to-date solutions to various challenges ranging from global warming to fair distribution of income and wealth, from social innovative entrepreneurs to grassroots innovations to proliferate the utilization of renewable energy systems, social innovation seems to be capable of transforming the society in a way to tackle with the new kind of societal problems, on the one hand, and exploring new ways to create added value for the economy on the other hand.

I will elaborate further the topic of social innovation, Beyond GDP and the concept of new welfare state in my upcoming articles.

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