The purpose of this paper is to argue, using the New Zealand context as reference, that heterogeneous societies with diverse cultures have an expanded space of possibilities for developing social innovations.
Incorporation of the cultural context is integral to finding innovative, collective solutions for mitigating complex social problems and sparking transformational social change. Empirical support for this contention draws on examples of social innovations that embed the cultural values of Māori, New Zealand’s indigenous people.
Using illustrative cases, the authors highlight the capacity of Māori values, encompassed in an ecosystem of Māori social institutions, to catalyse social innovation in New Zealand. The authors position these examples within two paradigms of social innovation.
The paper limits its focus to the implications of Māori cultural values for social innovation. However, it serves to highlight that appreciation of indigenous and minority cultural values can provide a foundation for social innovations in other contexts too.
Recognising cultural values increases the range of possibilities for innovatively addressing social and environmental challenges.
Respect and recognition of indigenous culture and knowledge offers potential for sustainable solutions to complex social challenges.
This is one of the few papers to explore the cultural embeddedness of social innovation and highlight public policy social innovations.
de Bruin, A. and Read, C. (2018), "Towards understanding social innovation in multicultural societies: Implications of Māori cultural values for social innovation in New Zealand", Social Enterprise Journal, Vol. 14 No. 2, pp. 194-207. https://doi.org/10.1108/SEJ-09-2017-0048
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