Sebastiano Sabato, Gert Verschraegen

The Multi-Level Governance of Social Innovation: How the EU Supports Socially Innovative Initiatives

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Keywords: Social Innovation; Multi-Level Governance; Leverage Effect; Social Policy; EU Funds; European Union.

In this article we explore the interaction between resources for social innovation (SI) provided by the European Union (EU) and local SI initiatives. We analyse eleven case studies implemented in five countries and in three policy domains linked to the fight against poverty and social exclusion, with a view to understanding how and to what extent EU resources have been used in local SI initiatives and their consequences for welfare state reforms. According to our conclusions, the EU is a key layer of multilevel SI systems, often able to directly sustain local projects. Second, although private actors play a role in SI initiatives, governmental actors often act as policy entrepreneurs strategically pushing for experimentation. Third, while influencing local social policies, EU supported SI seldom affect national welfare reforms.

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