Innovation in the Public and Nonprofit Sectors: A Public Solutions Handbook, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Innovation in the Public and Nonprofit Sectors

A Public Solutions Handbook, 1st Edition

Edited by Patria De Lancer Julnes, Ed Gibson


276 pages | 19 B/W Illus.

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In the organizational context, the word "innovation" is often associated with private sector organizations, which are often perceived as more agile, adaptable, and able to withstand change than government agencies and nonprofit organizations. But the reality is that, while they may struggle, public and nonprofit organizations do innovate. These organizations must find ways to use shrinking resources effectively, improve their performance, and achieve desirable societal outcomes. Innovation in the Public Sector provides alternative frameworks for defining, categorizing, and studying innovation in government and in the nonprofit sector.

Through a diverse collection of international case studies, this book broadens the discussion of innovation in public and nonprofit organizations, demonstrating the hurdles organizations face and examining the technological advances and managerial ingenuity innovators use to achieve their goals, both within and beyond the boundaries of the innovating organization. The chapters shed light on key issues including:

  • how to conceptualize innovation;
  • how organizations decide between competing good ideas;
  • how to implement innovation;
  • how to contend with challenges to innovation;
  • how to judge success in innovation

This book provides current and future public managers with the understanding and skills required to manage change and innovation, and is essential reading for all those studying public management, public administration, and public policy.


"De Lancer Julnes and Gibson have assembled a collection that provides a much needed antidote to the view that it is only the private sector that innovates. From municipal planning and technological innovations, through coaching in community colleges and measuring culture value in museums, to collaborative governance arrangements, this collection showcases the wealth of innovation occurring in the public and not-for-profit sectors. The contributions address how to conceptualize and study innovation, explore how innovations come to be and how organizations choose, describe how they are implemented in the face of challenges, and finally, discuss how innovation success can be judged. It is a must read for anyone interested in this topic." –Jenny M Lewis, University of Melbourne

"Public managers are expected to be innovative and "do more with less," but actual innovation cannot be reduced to a checklist. Patria de Lancer Julnes and Ed Gibson’s textbook demystifies innovation. Innovation in the Public and Nonprofit Sectors is rich in current, practical demonstrations that inspire and provide lessons in how to be innovative. It is ideal as a text for professionals in training as well as practitioners." –Alan Lyles, University of Baltimore

"An excellent compendium of cases from the nonprofit and public sectors that moves us well beyond traditional approaches to innovation that assume organization-centric perspectives, top-down leadership, centrally-resourced funding, and official channels of communication. These cases and their analyses point us toward the next generation of research and practice—a network-centric perspective on innovation that requires trans-organizational leadership and cross-boundary collaborations among a network of stakeholders. This shift is welcomed and much-needed in today’s dynamic environment. It affords a much more nuanced understanding of innovation in all of its complexity." – Nancy Roberts, Naval Postgraduate School

Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures Acknowledgments Part 1: The State and Study of Public and Nonprofit Sector Innovations 1. Introduction to Innovations in the Public and Nonprofit Sectors Patria de Lancer Julnes and Ed Gibson Chapter 2. The Study of Innovation: State of the Art and Framework for Analysis Patria de Lancer Julnes Part 2: Case Studies of Innovations in the Public Sector Chapter 3. Innovations in the Measurement of Cultural Value: The British Museum Francesca Manes Rossi, Alessandra Allini, and Francesco Dainelli Chapter 4. Innovating from the Center in a Decentralized Agency: Electronic Filing in the Federal Judiciary Ed Gibson Chapter 5. Open Innovation in the Public Sector: The Case of Open 311 Sukumar Ganapati and Gina Scutelnicu Chapter 6. Data Sharing, Power Asymmetries and Inclusive Knowledge Management in Collaborative Innovation Processes: Lessons from a Failed Collaboration Stat in Baltimore City Seema Iyer Chapter 7. Making Milan a Smart City: An Emerging Strategy of Innovation in Governance Dario Cavenago, Benedetta Trivellato, and Mila Gascò-Hernàndez Chapter 8. Innovations in Planning and Funding Infrastructure Renewal: The London Experiment Mark Pisano Chapter 9. Improving Citizen Satisfaction with Local Government Using 311 Systems: The Case of San Francisco, California Benjamin Y. Clark and Maria Rokakis Part 3: Case Studies of Innovations in the Nonprofit Sector Chapter 10. Chelsea’s CONNECT: Building Economic Resiliency through Multiservice Cross-Sector Collaborations Janet Boguslaw, Martha Cronin, and Marissa Guananja Chapter 11. Leadership Developing Partnerships to Address the Social Determinants of Health Richard Callahan Chapter 12. Exploring the Linkages between Collaboration and Innovation Using Faith-Based Partnerships in the Child Welfare System Michael Howell-Moroney Chapter 13. Intermediaries of Innovation in Community Colleges: Coaching in Achieving the Dream Susan T. Gooden, Kasey J. Martin, and Lindsey L. Evans Part 4: The Future of Innovation – An Integrative Approach Chapter 14. Refining Our Understanding of the Process of Innovation in Public and Nonprofit Organizations: Lessons Learned and Future Directions for Research Patria de Lancer Julnes, Ed Gibson, and Soyoung Park About the Editors About the Contributors Index

About the Editors

Patria de Lancer Julnes, PhD, is Director of the School of Public Affairs at Penn State-Harrisburg, USA.

Ed Gibson, PhD, is Associate Professor of Public Administration in the College of Public Affairs at the University of Baltimore, USA.

About the Series

The Public Solutions Handbook Series

The Public Solutions Handbook series is designed to help public sector practitioners build the necessary competencies needed to respond to emerging issues, deliver services that policymakers have promised to the public, carry out their missions efficiently and effectively, and work in partnership with their stakeholders. The series is also geared towards students in graduate-degree programs who are seeking succinct, pragmatic, grounded guidance that will help them succeed in their public administration careers. This includes students in master of public administration (MPA), master of public policy (MPP), master of nonprofit management (MNPM) and even some master of business administration (MBA) and doctor of law (LLD) programs.

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