Skip to Content

Reading groups

In this section we've included some of the most inspirational publications on social innovation. 

Biographies of social innovators

There is a growing literature of books by pioneers of social ventures. They are remarkable narratives, containing many ideas and lessons for those engaged in social venturing. There are striking similarities in the kinds of obstacles and hostilities that they often meet with and how they are dealt with. They also show an inversion of customary ways of doing things, that have led to so many radical technological and organisational innovations.

Autobiographies and biographies of social ventures

Key texts on social innovation

Here are some of the major texts on social innovation, social entrepreneurship and social enterprise. Some of these publications include methods and tools for social entrepreneurs and non-profit leaders, others provide a collection of some of the most important social innovations of the last few decades. 

Key texts on social innovation

David Bornstein, How to Change the World, Oxford University Press, 2007

J. Gregory Dees, Jed Emerson and Peter Economy, Strategic Tools for Social Entrepreneurs, Wiley, 2002

Inspirational books and articles

Here are some of the most inspiring publications we've read that have shaped the way we think about social innovation. They cover a broad range of topics, from sustainable living and theatre to industrial economics and art.

Inspirational books and articles

Augusto Boal, Theatre of the Oppressed, Pluto Press, 1979

Carlota Perez, Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital: the Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages, Edward Elgar, 2002

Design and social innovation

Here are a few of our favourite publications on the role of design in developing innovative solutions to some of society's most pressing problems. 

Design and Social Innovation

Colin Burns, Hilary Cottam, Chris Vanstone and Jennie Winhall, Transformation Design, RED PAPER 02, London, Design Council, 2006

John Thackara, Designing in a Complex World, Cambridge, MIT Press, 2005

William McDonough and Michael Braungart, Cradle to Cradle, North Point Press, 2002.


Over the last few decades, there has been an explosion of methods designed to engage citizens in the deliberation and formulation of public policy – this includes participatory budgeting, participatory planning and a host of other methods for public participation. Here are a number of key publications on the subject.


Andrea Cornwall and Vera Schattan Coelho (eds), Spaces for Change, Zed Books, 2007

Leonardo Avritzer, Participatory Institutions in Democratic Brazil, Woodrow Wilson Centre Press, 2009