Social innovation and the Nordic welfare models

How can social innovation and social entrepreneurship helt the Nordic welfare model? Article from a joint MSI-Nordic council conference in Malmö

Social entrepreneurship and social innovation could help develop the Nordic welfare models, says Norway’s Minister of Labour and Social Inclusion Anniken Hauglie. These are issues she would like to promote when Norway takes on the presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2017.

“Authorities do not always reach the people they want to reach. The public sector has a responsibility when it comes to helping people, but it is a good thing to have social entrepreneurs as a supplement,” the Minister of Labour and Social Inclusion, Anniken Hauglie, told the Nordic Labour Journal during a recent Nordic conference at Malmö university/MSI on social entrepreneurship and social innovation.

“I will make sure we focus on entrepreneurship within the labour and social sectors during our 2017 presidency, and the Nordic Council of Ministers will initiate work to examine the possibilities for developing Nordic cooperation on social issues,” the minister underlined.

The backdrop for the conference was the report ‘Social entrepreneurship and social innovation’, which maps Nordic measures. It was produced by a Nordic committee appointed by the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2013. The conference saw social entrepreneurs, researchers, authorities and representatives from the voluntary sector come together to discuss the results and to find a way forward.

The future of the Nordic welfare state is hotly debated these days, not least because of the high number of refugees and immigrants seeking asylum in Nordic countries during the autumn of 2015. Meanwhile many young people are not in work or education, and others are struggling to enter the labour market. Nordic countries share challenges which could benefit from a debate on a Nordic level.

“This is about developing the Nordic welfare societies and the Nordic welfare solutions. This is a core task for Nordic cooperation,” says Dagfinn Høybråten, the Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers.

Nordic traditions

He thinks the report on social entrepreneurship and social innovation points to exciting opportunities which are in line with Nordic traditions.

“The welfare society rests on the citizens’ broad social involvement, and to organise this we have partly chosen cooperative solutions, partly commercial solutions and partly non-profit solutions. What we are seeing now is that these solutions are taking on new shapes. That is why it is interesting to analyse this complex picture both to get an overview and to discuss what constitutes good policies, in order to promote solutions to social issues where different actors cooperate.”

Is there a risk that authorities shift the responsibility to private actors and others operating in these waters?

“It is obviously an important debate to be had looking at how the public sector maintains its control, creating the frameworks, and there will be different answers to this. What is important is to highlight the issues so that we get an idea of the potentials. Then the countries’ elected officials must make the political decisions.”

Dagfinn Høybråten uses words like ‘exciting opportunities’ and ‘exciting perspectives’. The question is what this means in practice.

“I believe we need different tools in order to develop a society which provides opportunities for all, based on a common platform. Right now we cannot afford to not investigate and look into other ways of solving these broad social undertakings.”

Read the entire article in the Nordic Labour Journal

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