Capabilities approach to social innovation: a systematic review

Leonardo Ferreira Batista, Suzanne Érica Nóbrega Correia


Objective of the study: This article aims to address paths and trends in the capabilities approach for developing the scientific field of social innovation (SI).

Methodology/approach: Systematic literature review guided by the PRISMA recommendation with analysis of 16 articles suitable for discussion, after filtering 114 studies returned by the Web of Science database.

Originality/Relevance: The study is justified in terms of the development of the SI field, which has resorted to the approach of Amartya Sen's capabilities, mainly for the advancement of SI in public policies.

Main results: Results led to a current understanding of the conceptual support from the perspective of capability development to help delimit the processes and results of social initiatives on three fronts: grassroots innovations, social innovation processes, citizenship actions, and public policies.

Theoretical/methodological contributions: It is pointed out that the congruence between SI and the capabilities approach works as an incremental theoretical contribution of the role of social actors in the bases of social and/or organizational structures through the development of their capabilities.

Social/Management Contributions: As an empirical contribution, the practices of inclusion, the interaction of social actors, and the strengthening of public policies are presented, which, ultimately, can consolidate alternative management and socioeconomic development practices.


Social innovation; Capabilities approach; Amartya Sen; Grassroots innovation; Public policies.

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