This paper reviews governance and public governance related to an emerging area of policy interest – social innovation. The European Commission’s White Paper on European Governance (2001) focused on openness, participation, accountability, effectiveness and coherence in public policy as characteristics of good governance. The EC has prioritised social innovation to address policy problems. Yet, the extant literature and research on social innovation is sparse. The paper questions whether it is a new mode of governance which contributes to good governance or a continuum of neoliberal reforms of the state which alters the relationship between the state, market and civil society.