Towards Innovation with Care
New Horizons in the Economics of Innovation series
Edited by Lars Fuglsang
Chapter 8: Meta-Innovations on Strategic Arenas: Innovative Management in Public Organizations
Jørn Kjølseth Møller INTRODUCTION The public sector – including the public institutions – has traditionally been looked upon as being less innovative than private enterprises. This image includes a view of public activities as being rigid and dominated by a lack of incentive for change. Public organizations are viewed as institutionalized and professionalized bureaucracies, where creativity and innovation are limited, and managers and employees are simply expected to carry out the tasks that the political system has deﬁned. This view of the public sector also exists in the social sciences. Public organizations are typically looked upon as locked into an iron cage, where isomorphism is the norm. According to this view, public organizations are characterized by an increasing rationalization by the use of standardized scripts imported mainly from the private sector. Even when the focus is on the innovative aspects of public activities, the main notion is that innovation in a public context follows a ﬁxed pattern of change characterized by path-dependence and very little room for maneuver for managers and employees. This kind of exaggerated determinism concerning the potential for development in public organizations is expressed, for example, in neo-institutional analysis and the lack of importance attached to agency as well as in recent theories of path-dependence in welfare policies. In that way, there has to be a discussion of the possibility of diversity in path-dependence – the occurrence of multiple paths. There also has to be a discussion of the role of institutional agents. This could be...
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