Table of Contents

Handbook of Innovation in Public Services

Handbook of Innovation in Public Services

Elgar original reference

Edited by Stephen P. Osborne and Louise Brown

Leading researchers from across the globe review the state of the art in research on innovation in public services, providing an overview of key issues from a multi-disciplinary perspective. Topics explored include: context for innovation in public services and public service reform; managerial change challenges; ICT and e-government; and collaboration and networks. The theory is underpinned by seven wide-ranging case studies of innovation in practice.

Chapter 34: Innovations in structure: experience from local government in the UK

Rhys Andrews and George A. Boyne

Subjects: business and management, public management, economics and finance, services, innovation and technology, innovation policy, politics and public policy, public policy


Structural innovation in the public sector typically involves the amalgamation of small organizations into a new bigger body, the disaggregation of large organizations into smaller units or the development of platforms for the shared delivery of services by several agencies. Such reforms have a long history as a response to both perceived weaknesses in service provision and a desire to reap gains in efficiency (March and Olson 1983). Invariably, debates on the appropriate structures for public service delivery often concentrate on the issue of scale, especially the optimum client population size in terms of its relationship with costs, effectiveness and democratic responsiveness. The impact of this issue has been especially apparent at the local level, particularly in the UK where central government has displayed a predilection for centrally mandated structural innovation in response to the perceived inefficiency of smaller local governments (John 2010). Prior to the advent of devolution of administrative powers to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, innovations in the structure of UK local government had tended to take the form of vertical consolidation and horizontal amalgamation of small units into larger ones, in an attempt to reap scale economies associated with bigger bureaucratic organizations.

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