Handbook of Innovation in Public Services
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Handbook of Innovation in Public Services

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.
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Chapter 3: Public and private features of innovation

Jean Hartley


This chapter has two main purposes. The first is to outline key themes and questions relevant to innovation in public services, as an analytical framework against which to consider the principles of innovation theory in general. The second is to examine what can be learnt from the extensive research into innovation in the private sector and what must be reconceptualised to take account of the particular goals, purposes and contexts which characterise public organisations. This is important whether the public sector innovates on its own or collaboratively with other sectors. The discourse about public services innovation is full of myths, assertions and assumptions. It suffers from having projected onto it the prejudices, the hopes and fears, the frustrations and ambitions of management theorists, policy-makers and practitioners. A senior manager whose role was ‘Head of Public Sector Innovation’ for a private company commented that people polarised in their assumptions about his job, believing either that the job was overwhelming in size and scope or that it was tiny. Add to that the paucity of innovation research in public management theory, with relatively few researchers working in the area, and also the neglect of the public sector in innovation theory, and one has a heady cocktail of ignorance, lack of evidence, and unexamined and untested assumptions.

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