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 6: Innovation as the practice of change in the public sector

Ian Colville and Mike Carter


Whether it be the banking collapse in 2008, riots in English cities during the summer of 2011 or the continuing machinations in the contemporary Euro crisis which have almost inconceivable implications for the world financial system, events seem to be less predictable, more complex and more dynamic than has been represented in previous generations of organizational theory (Farjoun, 2010). As a consequence, organizations are increasingly surprised by what they have to deal with, either because there is a break in expectations that come from situations that are not anticipated or situations do not advance as planned (Bechky and Okhuysen, 2011; Cunha et al. 2006). Either way, managers struggle to make sense of them (Weick 2009). Organizations increasingly have to be capable of ‘managing the unexpected’ by engaging in innovation through organizational change (Poole and Van de Ven 2004; Weick and Sutcliffe 2007). Against such a background managers are exhorted to innovate in order to stay abreast of what is happening and to engage in the practice of change management. So what are the implications of this for academics and practitioners, not least for developing relevant compass bearings to find direction in this contemporary landscape?

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