The Innovation Imperative in the Public Sector

Setting an Agenda for Action

image of The Innovation Imperative in the Public Sector

The public sector has to become more innovative if it is to tackle today’s complex challenges and meet society’s changing expectations. But becoming truly innovative requires deep and broad changes to organisational culture and operations. Drawing on evidence emerging from the OECD Observatory of Public Sector Innovation’s collection of innovative practices from around the world, this report looks at how to create a government where innovation is encouraged and nurtured.



Innovating within existing public sector rules, processes and procedures

Rules, processes and procedures enable large organisations to accomplish co-ordinated tasks in standardised ways, and therefore have a significant impact on the kind of work and innovation that an organisation can undertake. Clarifying and simplifying rules and regulations, and ensuring a minimum of red tape to ensure compliance with important protocol can open up space for innovation and ensure that employees share a collective understanding of where that space lies. The rules that control spending also have a strong impact on the ability for organisations to resource innovation, with more budget agility assumed to provide more opportunity to finance innovation projects. Additionally, the project management approaches themselves are processes that can either support or hinder effective innovation in public sector organisations. Various experimental approaches to project development that include piloting and prototyping may challenge traditional approaches to organisational transformation and require a different regulatory framework to reap potential innovation benefits.


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