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 24: Policy networks and innovation

Jenny M. Lewis, Damon Alexander and Mark Considine


Innovation has come to be seen as a defining value of both economic and political development in the global era. It is not difficult to see why this should be the case in a context where revolutionary new technologies and novel organisational methods are the subject of competition among the world’s leading corporations. At a somewhat less visible level, innovation has also helped frame issues and priorities within the public sectors of many developed countries over the last decade. Pressure for governments at all levels to do more with less in response to shrinking budgets and expanding community service obligations has led to a much greater focus upon how the public sector manages change and innovation (Bartlett and Dibben 2002). Such pressures are likely to increase exponentially in light of the impact of the Global Financial Crisis on government expenditure (Osborne and Brown 2011). A heightened focus on innovation in the public sector has created a pressing need to understand the innovative capacity of public organisations. This has not been matched by empirical work on the topic, with a few notable exceptions (e.g. Osborne, Chew and McLaughlin 2008a, 2008b). This chapter examines the normative outlooks and networking behaviours of recognised policy and programme innovators within the public sector, using an Australian study of municipal governments (Considine, Lewis and Alexander 2009).

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