Limited growth opportunities and growth dependencies characterize tourism, construction and healthcare industries in mountain areas. This research project aims to analyze the role of social innovations in decreasing such growth dependencies.

Lay summary

The tourism, construction and healthcare industries represent the main pillars of Swiss mountain economies and they are increasingly under pressure to adjust to the mounting economic challenge of limited growth opportunities. They are facing various environmental, economic and societal growth limits.

At the same time, a general trend towards the adoption of new types of innovations that involve novel forms of collaboration as well as innovations that meet social needs can be observed. This is referred to as social innovations. There are indications that enterprises, industries and regions are adopting social innovations to address social needs and problems. While social innovations are increasingly adopted in Swiss mountain regions, there is little systematic knowledge about these kinds of innovations and, in particular, their potential to shift away from the traditional growth orientation and the lock-in that this orientation produces for industries and regions.

This research analyzes the current practices of social innovations in the three above mentioned sectors. It further evaluates their contribution to making enterprises and regions less growth dependent. We will compare the industries in three Swiss mountain regions (Haslital, Adelboden and Grindelwald) that strongly differ in terms of economic structure, history and challenges they are facing.