Prepared by Josef Hochgerner (Zentrum für Soziale Innovation, ZSI)
Despite—or perhaps because of—the fact that Austria has been a follower of innovation for a long time, social innovation has not become a key issue in national policy debate until recently. Nevertheless, many innovations have been introduced to stimulate social development throughout the 20th century. Beginning with social legislation following the First World War, and as a result of the system of social partnership (a major social innovation in itself) which had been informally established and consistently built upon after the Second World War, Austria has created social innovations at a time when this term did not yet exist, and when even the term “innovation” was hardly used as a principle to guide management operations. Up to the end of the 1970s Austria worked to develop a consolidated social system. This system nowadays is exposed to mounting stress, especially from 1990 onwards, yet the necessity for developing and implementing social innovations in response to this stress did not make significant early inroads.