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Innovation in Managment

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Innovation In Management

Jonathan Streat
University Maryland University College

Although innovation is meant to solve issues in the public, the problem is how to develop and implement bold, new ideas and get the public agencies to buy into the innovation when they are steadfast in their own belief system. I feel that this is the greatest challenge for management, as we open the second decade of the twenty-first century. Innovation in the public sector is considered to be a constructive change process, which is a result of solving deficiencies or problems. As a result of the events of 9/11, the federal Department of Homeland Security was created. Technology is widely used as a way to increase communication between citizens and governments to better facilitate public services. Also, innovations in policies solve problems. Controversial policies such as Obamacare, shrinking cities strategies, and vacant housing programs are all popular topics in cities across the country. Here is where we see innovations and the various types of management approaches.
“Let us be clear about our context”. The public sector refers to the coordination, production, and delivery of goods and services by publically owned and accountable organizations (Potts 2010). This defines economic output including education, health, social welfare, and the private sector. Increased access to specialized knowledge, information, and expertise, resulting from the network form of governance, represent both an advantage and an obstacle for innovation. As Thomson and Perry (2006: 26) indicate, the willingness to share information for the good of the partner is a distinguishing characteristic of networks.” Likewise, the idea generation stage is largely dependent on an atmosphere that encourages and facilitates the sharing of ideas.
Innovation is a dynamic process through which problems and challenges are defined, new and creative ideas are developed, and new solutions are selected and implemented. It is a complex process with many jumps and feedback loops. Innovation can be seen as an intentional, learning-based practice that incorporates occasional chance discoveries. It brings about qualitative change as it breaks with conventional wisdom and well-established practices. Innovation is not always based on an invention, but may also involve identifying, translating, and adjusting new ideas and solutions from other countries, policy fields, or organizations. Hence, it is not the origin of new solutions, but rather the context in which they are implemented that determines whether they are new and innovative (Roberts & King, 1996).
However, one of the most significant challenges collaborating organizations face is associated with cultural and professional differences, which can create barriers to effective communication. Different organizations, and the individuals within them, may not share a common language and may make sense of, or define, problems differently. To build effective communication channels, public managers must effectively navigate cultural and professional differences to ensure that all participants are given a voice.
The culture of the new public management promotes competition between public managers for status, resources, and promotion. Sorensen and Torfing (2010) stress the importance of collaborative activities between public sector actors in order to promote innovation: “Public managers and employees are well educated people who are driven by values and ambitions that prompt them to improve their performance. The new innovation agenda provides a golden opportunity for the professionals to mobilize their knowledge and competencies that recently have been suppressed by the new public management reforms aiming to enforce rigid performance standards” (p. 6). Eggers and Singh (2009) provide a framework of five different collaborative strategies:
Cultivation – The provision of the space and time to allow public employees to interact, develop, and test innovative ideas. Replication – The use of knowledge bases or experiential learning from other public organizations to duplicate and adapt innovation into best practices. Partnership – The use of private partners in the innovation process who bring different resources, experiences and rule sets to the collaboration. Network – The construction of a community of innovation between the actors and interested parties driven by their mutual interest and interdependence. Open Source – The creation of global innovation contribution communities through the use of the Internet and enrolling unknown contributors in the process. The selection or combination of these collaboration strategy types is dependent upon the specific context in which they are applied. Goldsmith and Eggers (2004: 41) highlight the fact that “networks often bring together actors whose goals simultaneously overlap and differ.” This is a major problem when network participants attempt to maximize their own interests. This is highlighted in the significant differences in interests among public, private, and non-profit organizations. The central challenge in the development of meaningful innovation is determining how to achieve agreement without destroying the relationships and trust that are so vitally important to the network form of governance. With this in mind, reaching acceptance is unlikely when network participants fail to reconcile individual and collective interests to achieve goal congruence (Goldsmith & Eggers,
2004; McGuire, 2002; Thomson & Perry, 2006). Accordingly, public managers are charged with the difficult task of balancing multiple and sometimes competing interests. In conclusion, managers should maximize the benefits of innovation, align the decision making process for innovation evaluation and implementation with the reward structure, and maintain organizational elements that have the greatest chance of realizing the benefits. Public sector innovation experiments are likely to be successfully conducted at the point of service delivery rather than in a controlled setting (Tidd & Bessant, 2009, p. 60). This approach of empowering middle managers as innovation decision makers has the greatest chance of empowerment of the innovation champions within the organization and encouraging reasoned risk-taking behavior.

References
Eggers, B. and S. Singh. 2009. The Public Innovators Playbook. Washington, D.C.: Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Goldsmith, S. and W. Eggers. 2004. Governing By Network: The New Shape of the Public
Sector. Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution.

McGuire, M. 2002. “Managing Networks: Propositions on What Managers Do and Why They
Do it”. Public Administration Review, 62(5), 599-609.

Potts J and Kastelle T (2010) Public Sector Innovation Research: What’s Next? Innovation:
Management, Policy & Practice 12(2): 122-137.
Roberts, N. C. and P. J. King. 1996. Transforming Public Policy: Dynamics of Policy Entrepreneurship and Innovation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Sorensen, E. & Torfing, J. 2010. Collaborative innovation in the public sector: An
Analytical framework. Working Paper 1/2010, Studies in Collaborative Innovation,
CLIPS Project, Department of Society and Globalization, Roskilde University, Denmark.

Thomson, A. and J. Perry. 2006. “Collaboration Processes: Inside the Black Box”. Public
Administration Review (Special Issue), 20-32.

Tidd, J. & Bessant, J. 2009. Managing innovation (4th ed.), Chichester, England:
John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Jonathan,
This is a good start, but there are quite a few corrections/adjustments you need to make before this is a solid final draft. See my comments in the margins above for more details. Futhermore, make sure your paper thoroughly addresses the points in the assignment – namely, why is this issue the MOST important one facing managers now? Why is it more important than all the other issues?

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