In this paper, we introduce a methodological framework to develop dimensions for measuring social innovation capacities of spatial units. The framework is designed to ensure the compatibility of these dimensions with theoretical studies and innovative practices. Therefore, theoretical top-down strategies have been combined with an empirical bottom-up strategy. From the top-down perspective, we assess opportunities and limits of existing metrics of technological-economic innovation in the light of theoretical requirements of social innovation. As an interim result we present measurement dimensions for social innovation at the national level. Within the framework of the bottom-up strategy, we start our analysis from the local level. In qualitative case studies in four German cities, we investigate whether the above mentioned dimensions are of significance for the innovative practice. In order to study the innovation process in the context of innovative practice we look at the integration of migrants and discuss systemic determinants of social innovativeness. Finally, these systemic implications have been used to modify the measurement dimensions and to adjust them to the local level.