02 August 2019

Seyithan Ahmet Ates visited ASA, IIASA

Seyithan Ahmet Ates from Ankara University of Social Sciences visited the Advanced Systems Analysis program and gave a talk on "Power of crowd: Exploring potential of social innovations in overcoming "Middle Welfare Trap" on 2 August 2019.

Power of crowd: Exploring potential of social innovations in overcoming "Middle Welfare Trap"

The relationship between economic growth and other dimensions of societal progress is not always straightforward. There is a growing consensus on the necessity to move beyond the GDP and explore new ways to address global and local challenges, achieve collective well-being and social progress. “Middle Welfare Trap”, rather than “middle income trap” which is becoming a crucial phenomenon particularly for developing countries.


The main argument of the book is that social innovations in various forms have a big stake in overcoming so called “middle welfare trap”. The book puts particular emphasis on the idea of bottom-up development which requires citizens to realize its potential and feel more responsible to make a change. Social innovations may play the role that technological innovation did during the industrial development one century ago.


Social innovation is defined as new ideas, products, services and models which simultaneously meet social needs and create new social relationships or collaborations. Sharing economy practices, time banking, local currency movements, serious games, participatory budgeting, community energy hubs, social cooperatives, new ownership methods, block chain for social good, citizen labs, citizen science, do-it-yourself movements, cross-sectoral open innovations, repair cafés… There are a growing number of socially innovative services, products or models around the world.  However, the concept and power of social innovation has been gradually explored around the world. Social innovations have the potential to transform society to tackle new kinds of societal problems, thus making society more resilient against current or unprecedented challenges.


Among other things, the book addresses the following questions:


What are the new dynamics of ‘development’ and shortcomings of GDP-led growth paradigm?

Why do we need a bottom-up development approach for social and human wellbeing?

What are the drivers of social innovations?

What are the main characteristics of well-functioning social innovation ecosystem?

What are the illustrative examples of social innovations, how do they contribute to societal well-being?

How to move from “taker” to “maker” society?

What are the new ways of cross-sectoral collaborations?

What are the stakes of the crowdsourcing platforms in realizing socially innovative ideas?


By investigating various examples from around the world, the book gives a message to the average citizen: One of the primary responsibilities of the citizens in society today is to recognize their power and crucial role in creating, applying, sustaining and disseminating social innovations.

Dr. Seyithan Ahmet Ates is an associate professor of economics at Ankara University of Social Sciences with a particular interest in sustainable development, beyond GDP, green growth, social innovation, innovation management and socio-technical transformation. Besides that, he serves as the director of the Boston Institute for Social Innovation. As an action researcher, he leads a number of projects including an online social innovation platform ( www.ileridonusum.net ) which tracks the most recent developments, mobile serious game (www.gacemer.com), Design for Change Turkey ( www.gucbende.org). Dr. Ates has a graduate and undergraduate degree from Vienna University of Economics and a PhD degree (Doktor der Sozial- und Wirtschaftswissenschaften) from Vienna University of Technology. He is currently writing a book entitled “Power of crowd: Exploring potential of social innovations in overcoming "Middle Income Welfare Trap" to be published towards the end of 2019.

Print this page

Last edited: 09 August 2019


Elena Rovenskaya

Program Director

Advancing Systems Analysis Program

T +43(0) 2236 807 608

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313