Recently, research on project management has widened its scope to consider social innovation-oriented projects. However, research in this domain is still in its infancy; little empirical data has been conducted in this area and there are few comprehensive or practical guides available to project managers in this sphere. Social innovation projects are poorly understood in practice and prone to failure. We find that project management processes are poorly-defined and unwieldy in this context; control systems are lax, and consequently projects are inefficient. Social innovation projects have unique characteristics and are inherently different to typical industrial-oriented projects which must be considered by project managers. The goal of our research is to better understand this important-but-neglected area. We synthesise the literature and classify social innovation projects from key perspectives; we then present a comparative analysis of social innovation projects and industry projects in order to draw insights about what aspects from project management can be applied to the social innovation domain in order to increase levels of effectiveness and efficiency. From this analysis, we identify six key issues and challenges that social innovations are currently facing. The major contribution of this research is to gain a better understanding of the relationship between social innovation and project management. For researchers, these findings contribute to theoretical development within the field of project management; for practitioners, it provides important insights to help manage such important initiatives. The insights provided by this discussion should help in understanding some of the conceptual and practical difficulties that have prevented the effective implementation of social innovation projects. (C) 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier RV.