Social innovation is attracting increasing attention in research and policy, heightened by continuing austerity across Europe. Therefore, this paper examines earlier research into community-led local development (CLLD) initiatives in rural areas of Europe to develop our understanding of the meaning and scope of rural social innovation. We draw on a Schumpeterian view where innovations emerge from new combinations of resources that bring about positive changes and create value in society. A Schumpeterian social innovation framework is derived as the basis for re-analysing data from previous evaluations of LEADER policy in five different national contexts. This elicits a clearer understanding of social innovation in a rural development context, identifying different processes and outcomes that create social value. As the CLLD agenda and the demand for innovation in Europe gather pace, our aspirations are to inform future research and other initiatives on how to integrate social innovation into the design and evaluation of new rural development policies and programmes.