Enhancing Social Innovation by Rethinking Collaboration, Leadership and Public Governance


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Presentation to Social Frontiers conference by Jacob Torfing and Eva Sørensen

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Enhancing Social Innovation by Rethinking Collaboration, Leadership and Public Governance

  1. 1. Enhancing Social Innovation by Rethinking Collaboration, Leadership and Public Governance Jacob Torfing and Eva Sørensen Roskilde University and CLIPS NESTA, the 15th of November, 2013
  2. 2. Focus on public innovation Since Schumpeter innovation has been seen as a key driver of economic growth in the private sector  By contrast, public innovation has been described as an oxymoron  Growing focus on public innovation:  – Innovation systems: enhance competitiveness by transferring new R&T to private firms – NPM: innovation in public organizations will enhance efficiency and facilitate tax cuts – Social innovation: policy and service innovation in order to meet unmet social needs
  3. 3. Why public innovation?  The Good: High political and professional ambitions  The Bad: Growing number of wicked problems  The Ugly: Rising expectations and limited resources
  4. 4. A new innovation agenda  The public sector is more dynamic and innovative than its reputation  But public innovation is often episodic and accidental  As such, it fails to enhance the organizational capacity for innovation  Need to turn public innovation into a permanent, systematic and pervasive activity
  5. 5. Celebrating innovation heroes  Inspired by the private sector, the public sector has spent a lot of time searching for its own innovation heroes: – – – – –  Elected politicians Public Managers Private contractors Public employees Users However, innovation is not the result of individual action, but rather a team sport
  6. 6. Collaborative innovation All phases in the innovation cycle are strengthened through collaboration  Collaboration does not involve the search for unanimous consent, but is rather defined as the constructive management of differences in order to find joint solutions to common problems  Collaborative innovation ensures that it is the ability to foster innovation rather than organizational boundaries that determine who contribute to public innovation 
  7. 7. Methods of collaborative innovation 1. 2. 3. 4. Spaces outside but close to service production that enable employees to collaborate across organizational boundaries in order to develop and test new ideas Partnerships between public organizations and private firms that exploit complementary resources Networks with relevant and affected actors who bring new experiences, ideas and resources to the table Crowd-sourcing that draws on the wisdom of large anonymous crowds
  8. 8. Innovation management Innovation management Convener Actors Catalyst Facilitator Interaction Barriers: Lack of tradition, bad experience, or demotivating uncertainty Collaboration Barriers: mental silos, lack of trust, or conflict of interest Innovation Barriers: tunnel view, risk aversion, or low degree of institutionalization
  9. 9. Three roles of innovation managers  Convener: – Create momentum, secure political support and integrity, set the team, distribute roles, clarify the process, define milestones and deadlines, and align expectations  Facilitator: – Provide administrative support, enhance trust, develop common frames of reference, solve or mediate conflicts and remove barriers for collaboration  Catalyst: – Provide new perspectives, construct threats, create incentives, bring new knowledge into play, change the venue and mode of interaction, spur transformative learning and manage risk
  10. 10. The need for a cultural revolution  1. 1. Hands-on innovation management must be supplemented by hands-off innovation management: Active use of the HR function – Ensure diversity and develop boundary spanners – Recruit and nurture creative talents – Enhance collaboration, trust and influence Create public innovation culture – Combat the risk aversive, zero-error culture – Enhance experimentation and fast learning – Create flatter and more flexible organisations – Drill holes in the public silos and create open, borderless organizations
  11. 11. Transforming gocvernance, enhancing innovation While hierarchy can help to set the agenda and competition can creative incentives, collaborative forms of governance bring together public and private actors with relevant innovation assets  In order to enhance collaborative innovation, we need to shift the balance from New Public Management to New Public Governance 