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 16: Ethical innovation in the public services

Michael Macaulay and David Norris


Organizational ethics is a practical business. Those engaged in debating moral and ethical issues in the workplace should be able to provide insights into real-world problems. One area that may benefit from the gaze of organizational ethics is that of public service innovation, which has become increasingly well documented and applied to a broad spectrum of research into public service performance (Windrum and Koch 2008; Baxter et al. 2010). Recently there has been increasing interest in the ethics surrounding innovation, which has focussed predominantly on conceptual and philosophical issues, for example Glor (2003) who discusses some of the fallacies that can befall those who attempt to implement innovation. Others seek to promote a particular philosophical framework as a means by which the ethics of innovation can be better understood: Emison (2010), for example, highlights pragmatism as a suitable philosophy for professionals involved in innovation, whereas Fuglsang and Mattsson (2009) argue that innovation can best be viewed through the prism of care ethics. Perhaps most interestingly, commentators such as Jennings (2008) have cited innovation as a key factor in unethical organizational behaviour, although there can be little doubt that in an age of global austerity the quest for further innovation will continue apace. Several commentators have suggested that the values of ethics and innovation are somehow opposed. Mehanna and Yazbeck (2008, p. 1) have portrayed ethics and innovation as ‘two seemingly unrelated principles’, although they subsequently suggest that there is a point of convergence centred on public prosperity.

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