Public Innovation through Collaboration and Design: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Public Innovation through Collaboration and Design

1st Edition

Edited by Christopher Ansell, Jacob Torfing


246 pages | 10 B/W Illus.

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While innovation has long been a major topic of research and scholarly interest for the private sector, it is still an emerging theme in the field of public management. While ‘results-oriented’ public management may be here to stay, scholars and practitioners are now shifting their attention to the process of management and to how the public sector can create ‘value’.

One of the urgent needs addressed by this book is a better specification of the institutional and political requirements for sustaining a robust vision of public innovation, through the key dimensions of collaboration, creative problem-solving, and design. This book brings together empirical studies drawn from Europe, the USA and the antipodes to show how these dimensions are important features of public sector innovation in many Western democracies with different conditions and traditions.

This volume provides insights for practitioners who are interested in developing an innovation strategy for their city, agency, or administration and will be essential reading for scholars, practitioners and students in the field of public policy and public administration.


'This brings together the key debates about design and innovation and provides a welcome comparative perspective. The contributors highlight the tension between service improvement and cost reduction in times of fiscal crisis. They also make clear that collaborative design is both high risk and high reward and give us a wealth of material on actual practices to guide us.'

Mark Considine, Professor, The University of Melbourne, Australia

'This book offers well selected and interesting examples of different possibilities in different places. It also clearly articulates the complexity of the collaborative process, and the dif?culties encountered with con?icts and contestations in collaborative policy arenas.'

Michele Ferguson, The Institute for Social Science Research, University of Queensland

Table of Contents

1. Collaboration and Design: New Tools for Public Innovation (Christopher Ansell and Jacob Torfing) 2. Necessity as the Mother of Reinvention: Discourses of Innovation in Local Government (Steven Griggs and Helen Sullivan) 3. Reconstructing Bureaucracy for Service Innovation in the Governance Era (Robert Agranoff) 4. The Complexity of Governance: Challenges for Public Sector Innovation (Susanne Boch Waldorff, Lone Søderkvist Kristensen, and Betina Vind Ebbesen) 5. The Impact of Collaboration on Innovative Projects: A Study of Dutch Water Management (Nanny Bressers) 6. Understanding Innovative Regional Collaboration: Metagovernance and Boundary Objects as Mechanisms (Stig Montin, Magnus Johansson Joakim Forsemalm) 7. The Importance of Joint Schemas and Brokers in Promoting Collaboration for Innovation (Barbara Gray and Hong Ren) 8. Collaborative Networks and Innovation: The Negotiation-Management Nexus (Robyn Keast and Jennifer Waterhouse) 9. Innovative Leadership Through Networks (Katrien Termeer and Sibout Nooteboom) 10. Designing Collaborative Policy Innovation: Lessons from a Danish Municipality (Annika Agger and Eva Sørensen) 11. Design Attitude as an Innovation Catalyst (Christian Bason) 12. Collaborating on Design – Designing Collaboration (Christopher Ansell and Jacob Torfing)

About the Editors

Christopher Ansell is a Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley, USA. He is also the US Editor of Public Administration: An International Quarterly.

Jacob Torfing is a Professor in Politics and Institutions at Roskilde University, Denmark. He is also the Director of the Centre for Democratic Network Governance and Vice-Director of a large-scale research project on Collaborative Innovation in the Public Sector.

About the Series

Routledge Critical Studies in Public Management

The study and practice of public management has undergone profound changes across the world. Over the last quarter century, we have seen

  • the increasing criticism of public administration as the over-arching framework for the provision of public services
  • the rise (and critical appraisal) of the ‘New Public Management’ as an emergent paradigm for the provision of public services
  • the transformation of the ‘public sector’ into the cross-sectoral provision of public services
  • the growth of the governance of inter-organizational relationships as an essential element in the provision of public services

In reality these trends have not so much replaced each other as elided or co-existed together – the public policy process has not gone away as a legitimate topic of study, intra-organizational management continues to be essential to the efficient provision of public services, whist the governance of inter-organizational and inter-sectoral relationships is now essential to the effective provision of these services.

This series is dedicated to presenting and critiquing this important body of theory and empirical study. It will publish books that both explore and evaluate the emergent and developing nature of public administration, management and governance (in theory and practice) and examine the relationship with and contribution to the over-arching disciplines of management and organizational sociology. Books in the series will be of interest to academics and researchers in this field, students undertaking advanced studies, and reflective policy makers and practitioners.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Social Policy