Innovation in the Public Sector
PUBLIN is part of the Programme for research, technological development and demonstration on "Improving the human research potential and the socio-economic knowledge base,1998-2002" under the EU 5th Framework Programme.
On the PUBLIN research project
The main objective of PUBLIN has been to develop a consistent and general basis of understanding of the main processes of public sector innovation and policy learning.
As part of this PUBLIN was asked to
On the basis of this PUBLIN has given concrete advice on how public authorities may organize learning and innovation processes in the public sector, while taking national characteristics and differences between the various policy and innovation systems into consideration.
From the original presentation of the Publin project:
PUBLIN will see innovation in the public sector in the wider social context in which the institutions are embedded, including the interaction with and dependencies of innovation in private, market-based organisations, and the structure of incentives for these institutions to innovate.
PUBLIN will examine the influence politics, management, evaluations, cultural traits and entrepreneurship has on public sector innovation and learning performance, i.e. on a range of behavioural and administrative changes in public organisations.
In doing this the project will analyse networks, knowledge flows and sources and drivers of innovations in public organisations. Moreover, PUBLIN will study how and by what means innovation is managed in public organisations.
The PUBLIN project will primarily focus on functional innovation. Broadly these types of innovation may be delineated by considering
PUBLIN will primarily focus on five types of innovation,
It should be noted that PUBLIN will not simply apply the innovation concept of private sector innovation to the public sector. The innovation concept to be used takes into account the special circumstances of public sector organisations, notably the tasks and obligations handed down which is translated in a rule set and standard operating principles.
In the public sector, efficiency or profit is not the overriding concern it is for private sector organisations. It is one of many considerations. Public sector employees, operating under a broad set of goals and public responsibility, pursue goals within the frame of a narrow mission. They have a fair amount of discretion in dealing with demands from parliament and politics. All this will affect innovation activities likely to be pursued.
On the other hand, functional innovations in the public sector-consisting of changes in the characteristics of the services delivered, their production and nature of delivery-do depend for their identification and implementation on factors equal to those for innovation in the private sector: the identification of a problem, capabilities and competences (which consists of knowledge and organisational capabilities), management of internal and external relations, compatibility with organisational goals and institutional leadership.
A central assumption of the project however is that functional innovation in public sector organisations is strongly linked to three other types of innovation:
which is why we will analyse the four types of innovation as interrelated-the actual interrelation being the object of study. PUBLIN will thus be sensitive to the specific innovation context, which is different to that of companies in the private sector, although the difference to some extent is a difference in degree.
This difference is also the reason why PUBLIN will not draw exclusively on the study of innovation (focusing on private sector innovation) but will combine it with organisational science, in particular public administration, management science (public management), sociology, and political science.
PUBLIN will take a close look at the learning processes underlying policy development in public sector bureaucracies.
The project will distinguish between three types of policy learning:
Other benefits of the work
PUBLIN will contribute to:
Moreover, the project will seek answers to a large number of research questions, among others:
The PUBLIN site is published by NIFU STEP Studies in Innovation, Research and Education. Editor: Per M. Koch, NIFU STEP, Hammersborg torg 3, N-0179 Oslo, Norway, phone +47 22 86 80 21, fax: +47 22 86 80 49.