Social innovation is the subject of a growing number of courses and research in the surveyed countries and is seen as a critical element in students’ development ©

British Council

Social innovation has grown rapidly around the world in the last decade. There are increasing numbers of social innovators developing new ideas, the emergence of government policy to support social innovation, and enhanced interest in the concept and practice by academics. Universities play a key role in developing responses to complex problems and social innovation is seen to offer critical tools for them to achieve this.

This research comprises a comparative study and five in-depth country reports on social innovation and social enterprise research and teaching in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea and Vietnam. It was conducted by the University of Northampton in partnership with local research teams in each country. 

It finds that social innovation is the subject of growing number of courses in these countries, with the vast majority of modules focused at the undergraduate level, and social innovation teaching seen as a critical element in students’ development, especially in fostering communication skills, empathy, problem-solving, and analytical thinking.  However, it notes that one of the existing challenges is that social innovation modules remain dominated by business schools.

Research into social innovation is also growing, and there is a desire for more research centred on business modelling, social enterprise success factors and social impact measurement. However, it notes that research collaborations in this field between Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are uncommon and that there is a lack of funding for social innovation research from HEIs. 

The authors make a number of recommendations in the comparative study at the practice, institutional and systemic levels. They suggest, for instance, that social innovation should be embedded across all academic disciplines and degree programmes and that HEIs increase their engagement with corporates for support of social innovation research and teaching. 

Download the comparative study and country reports below. See also our separate but related study of Social innovation and higher education in Hong Kong (Adobe PDF 7.4MB).

To launch the research, we brought together the following experts to present and discuss its findings in a online forum. The featured speakers included academics and policy advisers from the UK and Asia.

  • Prof Richard Hazenberg, Lead UK researcher, Professor of Social Innovation, Institute for Social Innovation and Impact, Directorate of Research, Impact and Enterprise, University of Northampton, UK; 
  • Dr Ari Margiono, Center for Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship Research, Bina Nusantara (Binus) University-International, Indonesia; 
  • Dr Ngo Thi Phuong Lan, Rector, University of Social Sciences & Humanities, Viet Nam National University Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; 
  • Pamela Ng, Manager, Social Enterprise Accreditation and Partnership, Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre, Malaysia 
  • Prof Ji-Hwan Lee, Director for Social Entrepreneurship MBA, College of Business, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Korea 
  • Prof Edwin Salonga, Chairperson/Lecturer, Social Enterprise Development Partnerships, Inc. (SEDPI)/ Ateneo de Manila University - Development Studies Program, Philippines

Watch a recording of the webinar

About our 'Social innovation in South East Asia' programme

The British Council’s 'Social innovation in South East Asia' programme supported social innovators in their ambitions to achieve more inclusive communities. It did this through developing collaborations with leading UK social innovators across the eco-system, specifically in policy, higher education and social innovation organisational development with a notable focus on social enterprises. The collaborations that developed were focused on sharing learning and developing joint solutions to key challenges that were faced in East Asia and the UK.​