Innovation in Public Services: Wicked Problems and Multi-layered Solutions
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During the last decade, innovation in public services has been addressed as a universal tool for improving existing public services and solving grand social challenges. The problem is that a range of promising concepts have addressed the topic, but the concepts are rivalling in scope, and the understanding of the topic is fragmented. This thesis contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of the topic, by categorizing existing viewpoints and developing a theoretical framework to explain how innovation in public services develop over time. The theoretical framework provided here has developed out of existing knowledge in the two scholarly disciplines of innovation and public administration, in the neo-Schumpeterian approach to evolutionary theory and the neo-Weberian approach to institutional theory. The combination of knowledge has revealed new knowledge that has helped conceptualize a social dimension of innovation. The thesis contributes to the theory development through the research design and methods of a process study. The setting for the process study is the emerging innovation of public charging services for electric vehicles in the city of Oslo from 2007–2014. This new public service was selected because of its interesting history, which gives us glimpses into the generative mechanisms to innovation in public services discussed in the scholarly debate. The main findings show how the new public service of charging stations developed in inter-organizational processes of interaction over time, with politicians, public managers, private firms, third-sector organizations, as well as with charging technology, the policy regime and the market for electric vehicles. The first paper in this thesis focuses on the inter-organizational processes in the distinct context of the public sector. It shows how the new public service was shaped by technical and institutional events at the micro-level, and by political, governmental and social events at the broader social level. The interaction between the governmental and political events was found to be especially important of this new public service, and was examined further in the second paper. The examination identified several critical incidents that initiate, drive and hinder the emerging innovation. These incidents demonstrate the compounded nature of the political dimension of wicked problems, in the range of activities that take place at various phases in the policy-cycle, in governmental goals, existing policy, public procurement, political trends, etc. The third paper focuses on the theoretical explanations to these observed empirical patterns, and distinguishes five main types of innovation in public services, in a taxonomy: bureaucratic coordination, administrative responsibility, performance management, collaborative innovation and public value creation. The taxonomy demonstrates the heterogeneity of the phenomenon of innovation in public services. The concluding chapter shows how these main findings can help to extend the ongoing public and political debate, demonstrating that the phenomenon of innovation in public services cannot be reduced to a simplified idea fostered by one generic instrument, as commonly held in the public and political debate. Innovation in public services must be understood in a multi-layered approach, resulting out of many ongoing processes of change and development, and in a setting of wicked problems in the public sector.
Has partsThe papers of this dissertation are not available open access, due to copyright matters
Paper 1 Coevolution and innovations in governance: A case study of the new public service system for electric vehicles in Oslo Røste, Rannveig https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9781134628414/chapters/10.4324%2F9781315885612- 17
Paper 2 The political dimension of wicked problems: A process study of the emerging innovation in public charging services for EVs in Oslo Røste, Rannveig
Paper 3 Innovation in public services: a multi-layered approach Røste, Rannveig