2. Governance and Public Sector Innovation


The aim of the English-speaking working group Governance and Public Sector Innovation is to bring together academics interested in exploring the linkages between public sector governance and innovation. There is a growing interest in governing innovation across the globe. Innovation has become one the main buzzwords in both the private and the public sector. Innovation is often used as a simple synonym for related words such as change, reform or a more recent version, digital transformation. Closely tied with digitalisation, innovation has become a trend that governments may wish to ignore but have no choice but to take it seriously. According to this ‘innovation imperative’, governments must adopt new ways of thinking and change their administrative culture to be better prepared for responding to societal challenges. This is particularly so in times of crises and pandemics.

Innovation, however, is not a panacea and costs, benefits, as well as intended and unintended consequences need to be carefully assessed. Nor is innovation something that public administrations can easily adopt. Innovation in the public sector requires a governance system, both political and administrative, that can weigh in the implications of innovative activities on the administration, citizens and society as a whole.

Call for papers and presentations

The working group invites both conceptual and empirical papers/presentations, that explore the connections between public sector governance and innovation, broadly defined. Topics may include but are not limited to:

  1. What is public sector innovation? Theories of adoption, diffusion and implementation of innovation and their applicability to public sector governance;
  2. The governance of public sector innovation (i.e. innovation labs, cross-governmental working groups, formal/informal networks, etc.);
  3. The creation and governance of policy/innovation labs in central, regional or local government: challenges, opportunities, potential, pitfalls, etc.;
  4. Cases of innovation projects, activities and initiatives in the public sector and their implementation, effectiveness and sustainability;
  5. Skills, competences and civil service capacity required to manage innovation;
  6. Risk management mechanisms that are used to manage the risks of innovative behaviour (e.g. piloting, experimentation, cost-benefit analysis, ex-ante and ex-post evaluation, stakeholder engagement);
  7. Implications of public sector innovation: public costs, benefits, ethical dillemmas, paradoxes and contradictions inherent in and/or resulting from innovative activities;
  8. Public sector innovation: ‘old wine in a new bottle’? or is there something new (desirable or indesirable) in this global trend?

Abstracts of max. 300 words can be submitted by 7.10.2020 to the chairs of the working group: 

Dr. Sorin Dan, University of Vaasa, sorin.dan@univaasa.fi

Prof. Christoph Demmke, University of Vaasa, christoph.demmke@univaasa.fi