As new social innovation books seem to be popping up like mushrooms, we hope to help you choose where to focus on your limited time if you want to learn more about the fascinating phenomenon of social innovation.

Social innovation is, essentially, ‘innovation that is social both in its ends and its means[1]’. More and more policymakers, business people, NGOs, entrepreneurs and citizens are getting on the train of social innovation as a way to address and grand challenges of our times.


Steidle (2017) Leading from Within: Conscious Social Change and Mindfulness for Social Innovation

The book examines the need for social change and works as a roadmap for individuals that desire to drive transformation and change in society’s core sectors. The author’s approach is to apply mindfulness and empathy to social innovation. Steidle is familiar with transformation and mindfulness tactics and the positive influence that they can have on daily life. In short, the book highlights the necessity for personal development in self-awareness, which as a process aids in the creation of leaders that will later lead others in social change. Steidle brings out the importance of ‘conscious social change’ in which leaders possess a deeper understanding of human needs and relations. A must-read when you are seeking new ways to deliver social transformation and change. │You can find and purchase the book here


Nicholls et al. (2015) New Frontiers in Social Innovation Research

‘Interest in social innovation continues to rise, from governments setting up social innovation ‘labs’ to large corporations developing social innovation strategies. Yet theory lags behind practice, and this hampers our ability to understand social innovation and make the most of its potential. This collection brings together work by leading social innovation researchers globally, exploring the practice and process of researching social innovation, its nature and effects. Combining theoretical chapters and empirical studies, it shows how social innovation is blurring traditional boundaries between the market, the state and civil society, thereby developing new forms of services, relationships and collaborations. It takes a critical perspective, analyzing potential downsides of social innovation that often remain unexplored or are glossed over, yet concludes with a powerful vision of the potential for social innovation to transform society. It aims to be a valuable resource for students and researchers, as well as policymakers and others supporting and leading social innovation.’ │ You can find and purchase the book here


Vasan et al. (2013) Do Good Well: Your Guide to Leadership, Action, and Social Innovation

This social innovation book has developed a toolkit for individuals interested in social enterprises, non-profit work, social innovation and social entrepreneurship, community change and activist movements. The authors are offering practical guidelines for young professionals and students, as well as a three-step process for social innovation that is based on personal experiences, research and learnings. The precise steps that the authors suggest, are doing what works, working together and making it last. The first part of the book refers to the development of ‘The Vision’, in which readers learn how to identify a problem, understand their environment and brainstorm possible solutions. The other two parts go into more depth regarding the framework and methods to bring about change. This book is a must read for individuals aspiring to establish and expand their knowledge on social innovation and social impact initiatives, as it is written in a simple reader-friendly format. It is an update of past materials created on that topic to help comprehend the needed actions for doing social good, as well as the repercussions and impact that they create. │ You can find and purchase the bookhere



Schwartz (2012) Rippling: How Social Entrepreneurs Spread Innovation Throughout the World

The author draws upon the knowledge and experience collected throughout the years, by working with a considerable number of the world’s top social change leaders in several fields. Beverly Schwartz created a model based on five proven principles that social entrepreneurs, innovators or leaders of organizations can take advantage of to bring societal and systematic change. The book clearly demonstrates that when empathy, creativity, passion, and persistence are put together; significant, life-altering progress is possible. A necessary read if you are interested in social innovation initiatives and are curious about how smart ideas and innovative business models can help tackle the major issues faced by humanity. Rippling is a timely social innovation book for readers that care about new solutions and are concerned about the ongoing changing environment. │ You can find and purchase the book here


Keohane (2013) Social Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century: Innovation Across the Nonprofit, Private, and Public Sectors

In her book ‘Social Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century’, Georgia Levenson Keohane provides a great insight into the emergence of social business and entrepreneurship. Her work provides a clear-sighted analysis of the many different dynamics at play as we test new models and solutions for global economic change” (Muhammad Yunus, 2006 Nobel Peace Laureate, author of ‘Banker to the Poor’). The book is an expert’s insight into several ways social entrepreneurship is playing a key role in the evolution of the planet. The learning outcomes of this material can be helpful for policymakers, nonprofits, academics and researchers, as well as investors that aspire to find the correct methods to take the most suitable solutions to lead them to the expected results. Social entrepreneurship is mentioned as having contributed greatly in several public and private sectors and this contribution is seen as having created considerable social impact. ‘Social Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century’ provides an in-depth coverage of cutting-edge initiatives, that readers can use in their own attempts to become socially aware and responsible citizens for the years to come. │ You can find and purchase the book here


Goldsmith et al. (2010) The Power of Social Innovation: How Civic Entrepreneurs Ignite Community Networks for Good

It is a guide for for those who seek knowledge on how to develop ideas, concepts and strategies on the community level to serve a humanitarian purpose and Goldsmith argues that to “create truly vibrant cities [and communities], we need to invent new approaches.” More specifically, he mentions that we “need to grow and execute [scale] these social innovations across entire systems.”  The value of the book lies in the interesting case studies demonstrating the specific process of individuals who took up social innovation initiatives successfully, specifically in education delivery systems and social service. The author reminds us that social innovators must embrace ‘continual innovation’, because innovation itself is a process that needs to be frequently reworked. ‘The Power of Social Innovation’ is a must-read book for you if you envision to create powerful impact and it works as a great toolkit to scale up your ideas. │You can find and purchase the book here


Manzini (2015) Design, When Everybody Designs: An Introduction to Design for Social Innovation (Design Thinking, Design Theory

The book shows how design and social innovation are interconnected. Designers should be understood as experts working towards common goals and in that sense, everybody could be potentially engaged in collaborative life projects. Collaborative life projects that could lead to unique outcomes, with a larger impact and bigger transformations for society. Manzini maps out several theories about design and provides several case studies to support his reasoning. Furthermore, he differentiates between design to diffuse and expert design. The former can be performed by everyone and the latter by the ones that have been trained as designers. The main message of the book is that everything can be achieved through collaboration. The book is interesting if you want to deepen your knowledge in both design thinking and social innovation. One of the nicest social innovation books we came across recently. │You can find and purchase the book here


Nicholls et al. (2011) Social Innovation: Blurring Boundaries to Reconfigure Markets

The author brings together some of the leading professionals from the field of social innovation, by providing a great array of perspectives, insights and questions that could lead in further research. The author maps existing literature in social innovation research and shows the depth of the subject, by reflecting the diversity that exists in the materials. The book is organised to bring a discussion on the three most crucial themes in social innovation field; meaning strategies and logics, performance measurement and governance and last but not least sustainability and the environment. A must-read material for individuals having a basic knowledge on the social innovation field and would like to take it to the next level. │You can find and purchase the book here


What are your thoughts on these social innovation books? Is anything missing? At Social Innovation Academy we believe in social innovation initiatives that can drive social change and improve the lives of millions. Still, social innovation practises are not yet mainstream in many sectors across the world. To tackle this issue, Limitless together with 4 other partners has recently started a project aiming to develop the Social Innovation Academy which will be the first fully online management training programme focusing exclusively on social innovation. Why Social Innovation Academy? Social Innovation has been increasingly perceived as the answer to the rising number of European societal challenges. While the European authorities, leading academics, policy experts, business people and activists agree that social innovation is the key to better future, it is extremely difficult for professionals to obtain high quality training on what social innovation offers and, more importantly, how it can be done in practice. Social Innovation Academy will aim to change this situation in Europe and beyond. If you are interested in keeping up with this project, you can subscribe to our newsletter, become one of our Friends, apply to become a member of our Global Advisory Board or follow us on social media (LinkedInTwitter and Facebook). We welcome all requests for collaboration here!


[1] Murray et al. (2010) The Open Book of Social Innovation

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsi­ble for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsi­ble for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Like what you read? Subscribe to our newsletter so that we can let you know when we write something useful again.



+352 661 588 685


29 Boulevard Grand-Duchesse Charlotte, L-1331 Luxembourg city


18 rue des Près, L-8147 Bridel

Share This