International Society for Third Sector Research

Stockholm June 28- July 1 2016

ISTR Conference stockholm

by Matthias Freise, University of Münster

InnoSI Panel at the 12th Conference of the International Society for Third Sector Research

Title of the Panel:

Social Investment and Social Innovation in Europe – Early results from the InnoSI Project

 Panel Chairs: Giulio Ecchia (University of Bologna) and Matthias Freise (University of Münster)

 Panel Outline:

European welfare states were designed to offer support against 20th Century social risks. In the current and ongoing climate of political, economic and social transition which began – or at least, became apparent – in 2008, EU Member States will have to adopt distinctive social welfare reforms to improve their resilience and prepare for future social risks. In contrast to a straightforward redistributive approach to social policy, social investment considers welfare as entailing investments to improve prospects for future economic and social participation. The emphasis, in other words, is on investments in people to enhance their productive capacities and foster longer-term economic development. Social investment thus stresses the life course dimension of social policies and their long-term benefits for society. But how to design robust social investment strategies which can deal with emerging socio-economic challenges and the aftershocks of the crisis? What is the role of the regional context in social investment policy? Which innovative and strategic approaches to social welfare reform utilising social innovation already exist in the member states of the European Union and which outcomes are they producing? And finally: How do social innovations influence the (re-)configuration of the European welfare states? Are NPOs and other actors from civil society still players in the game or is their influence on policy making shrinking?

These are the leading questions of the project “Innovative Social Investment: Strengthening communities in Europe“ (InnoSI) which is funded by the European Union within the Horizon 2020 program and brings together researchers and impact partners from civil society located in ten European countries (see the project’s website on

In this panel we will present the first results of the InnoSI-project by bringing together papers which (1) identify innovative and strategic approaches to social welfare reform through social innovation at various levels including those of the member state, region and locality, (2) assess institutional support for social progress through social investment, (3) review available macro-indicators to assess welfare performance in the light of social investment and (4) assessing the role of the social economy and civil society in social investment related to social innovation and delivering social outcomes.

The methodical basis of the papers is a comprehensive policy analysis of the support for early childhood development, the support for parents’ labour market participation and of policy measures to address social and labour market exclusion in the ten countries grouped together in the InnoSI project (plus France), including am interview survey with more than 40 policy experts and detailed analysis of official statistics.

In the open discussion the panel will discuss trends of social investments in the European Union and the change of the welfare regime.

istr conference40


Paper 1

Presented by: Dr Aldona Wiktorska-Święcka, Dr. Monika Klimowicz, Dr. Małgorzata Michalewska-Pawlak (University of Wroclaw)

Paper Title: Defining social innovations and social investments – some conclusions from a scientific literature review

Outline: Aim of the presentation is to provide the definitions of social innovations and social investment as they exist in the scientific literature. We are going to present the list of sources which contain all relevant definitions, like: monographs, academic journals and reports and evaluate them critically. The considered sources will be in the national languages of the ten InnoSI project partners. Time period of used sources is from 2000 to the first half of 2015. The thematic fields of literature analysis will be the following: early childhood development, parents’ labour market participation, combating social and labour market exclusion, social services for the persons seeking employment. Furthermore, we will summarise and synthesize the ideas and arguments about social innovations and social investment and seek to find the answer for the question if any national differences in approach to social innovations and social investment exist in examined scientific literature.


Paper 2

Presented by: Stephen Barnett, Executive Director of the EUCLID Network

Paper Title: Where’s the Innovation? Social investment old and new

Outline: While the Social Investment agenda is new, the impetus to invest in people in order to assist them to have a better future has been with us since the beginning of the welfare state. Novelty, however, comes with two twinned desires. The first is the impetus to provide a transparent justification for investment, both with regards to why welfare conceived as investment is a social good to be supported, and why any social investment uses particular methods. The second, following, is the desire to change how the welfare state works in order to a) create greater efficiencies through changes in structures, b) justify ways of working through better measurement of outcomes, and so create new solutions to social problems. This paper draws upon analysis of the policy and practice of social investment across the ten nations of the InnoSi project, examining commonalities and differences in innovation in social investment. In particular, it will ask where and when the reconfiguration of the welfare state truly deserves the description of ‘social innovation’.


Paper 3

Presented by: Andrea Bassi, Giulio Ecchia, Riccardo Prandini (University of Bologna)

Paper Title: Social Investment and Welfare Performances: Trends and Challenges at EU Level


Outline: European countries are implementing welfare policies that can be related to the so-called social investment paradigm. The aim of the paper is to provide a comparative overview on available macro-indicators to assess welfare performance in the light of social investment at EU level across 28 countries.

In the first part, we present national data on social investment concerning three areas: support for early childhood development, support for parents’ labour market participation, policy measures to address social and labour market exclusion. The comparison covers the period from 1995 to 2012-2013 distinguishing three stages: pre-Lisbon, Lisbon era, 2008 crisis and following years. The data regards all 28 EU countries with a special focus on the ten project countries of the InnoSI project.

In the second part of the paper, following 2015 ESPN Report on Social Investment, we analyse the main policy-making trends in relation to social investment. In particular, we also utilise regional data originally collected for the InnoSI project. Moreover, we discuss the possible links between social expenditure and socio-economic outcomes for the ten countries of the InnoSI project.

Click here to access the presentation in pdf format.


Paper 4

Presented by: Carolin Schönert and Matthias Freise (University of Muenster)

Paper Title: Coherence or hotchpotch? The social investment agenda and social economy in Europe after the financial crisis

Outline: The European welfare states developed very different strategies to cope with the effects of the financial crises. While some governments pursue a strategy of strict austerity and state limitation others have expanded public programs to mitigate the social decline. However, in almost all European countries we can discover a general trend moving away from mere redistributive approaches to social investment programs aiming to strengthen the human capital of the citizens. Therefore, many models are possible depending upon how policy, social and managerial roles are distributed between the public, private and third sectors and the specific legal frameworks that are used. In the paper we will give a comparative overview how the social investment agenda has effected the configuration of the social economy in the ten project countries of the InnoSI project (Sweden, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Greece, Poland, Spain, The Netherland, United Kingdom, and Italy) and France. In this context we show how the importance of state, private, and non-profit actors is changing in the investigated policy fields: child care, family benefits and active labour market policy. The study is based on a comprehensive interview survey with more than 40 social policy experts. Its aim is to portray trends in European welfare production based on the tool of social investment. The paper further illustrates the various trends in the cooperation of state, private sector and civil society in the implementation of theses policies.