Free

PDW: Making sense of innovation in the public sector context

Event Information

Share this event

Date and Time

Location

Location

ESCP Europe, Berlin Campus

Heubnerweg 8-10

D-14059 Berlin

Germany

View Map

Event description

Description

Making sense of innovation in the public sector context

Organizers: Caroline Wigren-Kristoferson, Lund University; Gry Agnete Alsos, Nord University; Christin Scheller, Lund University; Ingebjørg Vestrum, Nord University; Maja Nilssen, Nord University

Principal topic of the Professional Development Workshop (PDW)

In most European countries, the public sector is under severe pressure from various new challenges, such as aging populations and growing debt. Further, this sector faces increased demands for new and/or better services, more cost-efficient solutions, and alternative ways to interact with its citizens (Albury 2011; de Vries et al. 2016; Walker 2006). As a response, practitioners and academics have called for more innovation and entrepreneurial behavior in the public sector (Torfing and Triantafillou 2016; Osborne and Brown 2011). Innovation has the potential to improve not only the effectiveness but also the problem-solving capacities of organizations in the public sector (De Vries et al. 2016), and thereby the legitimacy and trust of public organizations (Lœgreid et al. 2011; Verhoest et al. 2007).

While innovation is far from a new phenomenon in the public sector, systematic work to enhance innovativeness in public sector organizations is a more recent phenomenon. Historically, public innovations have to a large degree been answers to political reforms, e.g. public day care services, public elder care services etc. Increasingly, public organizations innovate to reduce costs, to produce better quality, to meet demand from users, and to engage in solving challenging and complex problems. We define public sector innovation as involving the “development and implementation of new ideas that disrupt the common wisdom and habitual practices that hitherto dominated the solution context” (Torfing, 2019, p. 1); an institution is created or transformed.

Our understanding of innovation in the public sector context, however, is underdeveloped. Scholars have called for studies that develop new theories on innovation in public sector organizations and relate to extant theorizing on sources of innovation (Bloch and Bugge, (2013; De Vries et al. 2016). While innovation is a well-established topic and phenomenon in the private sector, the knowledge is more scarce when it comes to the public sector. The public sector context differ from private firms in several important ways with implications for how innovations can be carried out, such as political leadership and formalized hierarchies (Morris, et al, 1999), many stakeholders (Zerbinati, et al. 2005; Fernández-Alles and Llamas-Sanchez 2008), and that the individuals initiating innovations do not obtain ownership.

Today, we find research on public sector innovation in the field of public administration (Hartley, 2005; Moore & Hartley, 2008; Mulgan, 2007; Osborne & Brown, 2013) and in the field of innovation studies (Djellal et al., 2013; Gallouj & Zanfei, 2013). Studies on public sector innovation are scarcer in the field of entrepreneurship, where the topic is rather new. The field of entrepreneurship is, however, a healthy residence for such studies, bringing in new perspectives and different angles to the phenomenon. Public sector innovation is the result of the creation of a new or transformed institution, an issue which is also studied under the label institutional entrepreneurship (Battilana, Leca and Boxenbaum, 2009). Further, entrepreneurship theorizing opens for studies of the actors initiating and implementing public sector innovations, which are often overlooked in public administration and innovation studies.

Using entrepreneurship perspectives to study public sector innovation also comes with The public organizations are likely to be highly institutionalized and the entrepreneurs need to be aware of formalized hierarchy with detailed rules and procedures that guide the operation among the employees (Morris, et al. 1999). Moreover, the public entrepreneurs need to consider established stakeholder groups (Morris, et al. 1999, Zerbinati, et al. 2005; Fernández-Alles and Llamas-Sanchez 2008). Finally, the new innovative projects are not owned by the entrepreneurs and the main goal is to develop a more sufficient public service needed to handle increasing problems in the society.

Aim of PDW

This PDW aims at stimulating interactions among scholars interested in innovation and entrepreneurship in the public sector context. While research on this topic have been presented at previous RENT conferences, these presentations have been scarce and fragmented. By organizing a PDW on this topic, we hope to stimulate discussions between scholars in the RENT community, promoting research collaboration and future dialogue. As a result, public sector innovation can be a topic at RENT which regularly attracts paper submissions.

Outline of the PDW

The purpose of the PDW is to establish a theoretically informed discussion about public sector innovation from the perspective of entrepreneurship. The structure of the PDW will support this through an interactive format. The PDW will open with three short presentations giving different perspectives to public sector innovation. This will be followed with facilitated roundtable discussions. The focus of these discussions will be to share and discuss the participants research interests within the area of innovation and entrepreneurship in the public sector.

The programme of the PDW will be as follows:

15:30-15:40 - Opening: Welcome, aim and structure of PDW

15:40-16:10 - Brief topic presentations:

  • Organizing for innovation – the example of Helsingborg municipality

  • Legitimacy building for entrepreneurship in public organizations

  • To the smart city and beyond? Developing a typology of smart urban innovation

16:10-17:10 - Facilitated round table discussions with change of table (2×30)

17:10-17:30 - Sum up in plenary with focus on research questions and take home points Christin Scheller


Target group and take-aways

We believe that this PDW will be relevant for attendants of the RENT conference interested in the public sector context and institutional entrepreneurship.

The general call for more social, environmental and suitability focus in entrepreneurship research generally should make the PDW appealing. Further, as the public sector in Europe is facing requirements to deal with ne challenges, improve services and reduce costs, there are research opportunities ready to be explored in various contexts. International collaboration will strengthen such research.

The interactive comprehensive format will provide an excellent platform for networking activities across national boundaries and levels of experience; at the PDW as well as later in the conference.

Finally, the PDW will provide the participants with the following take-aways:

  • Ideas for future research projects and possible collaborations
  • Network contacts for future reference targeted to the topic of the PDW
  • Potential collaboration partners for research on public sector innovation
Share with friends

Date and Time

Location

ESCP Europe, Berlin Campus

Heubnerweg 8-10

D-14059 Berlin

Germany

View Map

Save This Event

Event Saved