Innovation in the public sector has climbed to the top of government agendas with ambitions to make public administration flexible in the face of societal ruptures. There is a growing body of research which tries to identify how institutions and systems respond to surprises, uncertainty and errors. Studies also provide insights on how different institutional conditions enable individuals and organisations to respond to profound change. In my recent article in Policy & Politics, I argue that organisation theory may help to serve as a bridge between theory and practice linking scholarship to the realities of practice, concerned not just with how things are, but how things might be. Given certain goals, such as innovation in public organisations, organisation designers would thus be capable of recommending structural solutions. Continue reading →
Policy innovations and experiments have been considered a cornerstone of China’s economic rise in the past decades. However, the adoption of innovations by local governments is not always mandated by the central government, as one may expect in the case of a strong, centralised, and authoritarian state like China. Instead, higher-level governments often take a laissez-faire approach and merely sponsor some innovations without actively getting involved in the process of adoption. In our recent article in Policy & Politics, we aim to answer the question of why higher-level governments intervene proactively in local innovations in some cases but only offer their backing in others. Continue reading →
I conducted a meta-review of policy diffusion studies that focus on the American states. By casting a wide net using Google Scholar and Web of Science, I identified all (to my knowledge) studies published between 1990 and 2018 that referred to “policy diffusion” and “berry and berry.” Berry and Berry are important because their 1990 study of state lotteries introduced the unified model of policy diffusion. Essentially, this model combined the internal characteristics of states with influences external to the states to explain policy adoption. Over time, scholars also recognized that the attributes of the policy innovations themselves condition how far and how quickly they spread. Continue reading →
This quarter’s highlights collection focusses on the popular theme of policy diffusion, bringing new analyses offering fresh perspectives on this extensive area of scholarship.
In our first featured article on policy diffusion, Daniel Mallinson continues his efforts in offering the most comprehensive analysis to date on how policy innovation diffuses across American states. Although hundreds of articles have tackled the fundamental question of why innovative policies spread, none has fully grappled with the scope of their disparate results.
To fill that gap, this article presents a state-of-the-art systematic review and meta-analysis of how policy innovation flows from US state to US state and the average effects of commonly used variables in the study of policy diffusion. In doing so, it highlights important biases in the research and makes recommendations for addressing those biases and increasing international collaboration on policy innovation research and results. Continue reading →
by Eva Sørensen, Professor in Public Administration and Democracy, Roskilde University, Denmark
A key task of elected politicians is to develop new innovative policies that address old unsolved as well as emerging policy problems. One of the causes of the current disenchantment of representative democracy is that mainstream forms of representative government favour hierarchy and competition, but provide poor conditions for collaboration between actors with relevant innovation assets. Hierarchy and competition are important innovation drivers because they put innovation on the political agenda and give politicians the incentive to innovate. However, as pointed out in recent strands of governance research and innovation theory, collaboration plays an essential role in creating the innovations. Dialogue between actors with different backgrounds and perspectives on a policy problem is valuable because it can promote creative destructions of existing policy positions, qualify the search for new ideas, inform prototyping and create joint ownership between policy makers and those who implement and diffuse new policies.