Innovations in Government

Innovations in Government: Research, Recognition, and Replication

Sandford Borins editor
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  • Book Info
    Innovations in Government
    Book Description:

    The Innovations in American Government Awards Program began in 1985 with a grant from the Ford Foundation to the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard to conduct a program of awards for innovations in state and local government. The foundation's objective was ambitious and, in an era of "government is the problem" rhetoric, determinedly proactive. It sought to counter declining public confidence in government by highlighting innovative and effective programs. Over twenty years later, research, recognition, and replication are the source of the program's continuing influence and its vitality. What is the future of government innovation? How can innovation enhance the quality of life for citizens and strengthen democratic governance? Innovations in Government: Research, Recognition, and Replication answers these questions by presenting a comprehensive approach to advancing the practice and study of innovation in government. The authors discuss new research on innovation, explore the impact of several programs that recognize innovation, and consider challenges to the replication of innovations. Contributors include Eugene Bardach (University of California- Berkeley), Robert Behn (Harvard University), John D. Donahue (Harvard University), Marta Ferreira Santos Farah (Center for Public Administration and Government, Fundação Getulio Vargas), Archon Fung (Harvard University), Jean Hartley (University of Warwick), Steven Kelman (Harvard University), Gowher Rizvi (Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Harvard University), Peter Spink (Center for Public Administration and Government, Fundação Getulio Vargas), and Jonathan Walters (Governing).

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-1030-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Gowher Rizvi

    The Innovations in American Government Program at the Kennedy School’s Ash Institute was set up in 1986 in response to widespread concerns about the dangers to democracy arising from citizen apathy and consequent loss of trust in government. Over the years, the institute also has sought to restore citizen confidence and trust in government through the Innovations in American Government Awards Program, which recognizes, celebrates, and replicates the best innovations in government. Since the program was launched, 400 outstanding government innovations have been recognized, and the institute has awarded in excess of $20 million to disseminate and replicate these innovative...

  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    The Festschrift, or tribute volume, is a well-recognized academic genre: an opportunity for colleagues, admirers, and intellectual fellow travelers to pay tribute, in print, to the scholarly achievements of an eminent member of their field. At its best, the Festschrift aspires to more than eulogy. It uses the occasion of a retirement or other significant milestone to advance the state of knowledge in the discipline. The homage to excellent scholarship takes the fitting form of further scholarship and new research. Though we are honoring a distinguished program that has come of age, not a venerable scholar who has reached retirement,...

  5. 2 Twenty Years of Highlighting Excellence in Government
    (pp. 13-27)

    “Stagflation,” gas lines, and Americans being held hostage in Iran were just a few of the more depressing lowlights of the American experience in the late 1970s—an America that was, not incidentally, still in the process of recovering from a disastrous war. In an infamous speech in 1979, President Jimmy Carter described it all as a “malaise.”

    And so when, in 1980, Ronald Reagan famously declared it to be “morning in America,” lots of Americans were ready to listen. But if it was a new, more positive dawning for America, American government still wasn’t having a particularly good day....

  6. 3 The “Kennedy School School” of Research on Innovation in Government
    (pp. 28-51)

    This chapter seeks to position the “Kennedy School school” of research on innovation in government¹ in the context of two broader, though different, literatures: public administration literature and mainstream organization studies literature. Kennedy School school research has many virtues, but these do not include extensive intellectual engagement with other scholarly traditions. Situating the literature in a broader context will help us appreciate both its contributions and its limitations, while also helping to suggest an agenda for future research.

    When one reads the Kennedy School school literature on innovation in one fell swoop, what is most noteworthy about it is that...

  7. 4 Citizen Participation in Government Innovations
    (pp. 52-70)

    This book is about innovations ingovernment. The Innovations in American Government Awards Program was conceived in large measure to renew respect for and trust in the public sector by recognizing the creativity and accomplishments of officials in government. In order to be eligible for an innovations award, programs must be administered by government. Consistent with the vision of the awards program and indeed the perspectives of much scholarship in public management and administration, most of the chapters of this book focus on various aspects of public agencies and their programs such as performance, organization, coordination, and replication. It is...

  8. 5 Subnational Government Innovation in a Comparative Perspective: Brazil
    (pp. 71-92)

    After launching the Innovations in American Government Awards Program in 1985 as a counter to declining public confidence in government, the Ford Foundation went on to discuss similar activities in other countries that were also facing moments of transition and challenge. In the Philippines, Galing Pook was conceived by a group of local governance advocates who shared a vision of sustainable development through the empowerment of local communities. They were responding to the challenges of the Local Government Code of 1991, which granted substantial autonomy to local government. Administered through the Asian Institute of Management, the award was officially launched...

  9. 6 The Unaccustomed Inventiveness of the Labor Department
    (pp. 93-112)

    For most of its first decade the awards program launched by the Ford Foundation and Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government to promote and celebrate public-sector innovation looked everywhere but Washington for evidence of inventiveness. It was not until 1995 that the Innovations in State and Local Government Awards Program opened eligibility to federal agencies and changed its name to the Innovations inAmericanGovernment Awards Program.

    That first year there was a flood of federal applications, and ten federal programs advanced to the finalist stage. Once the judges had met and pronounced their judgment, there were six federal...

  10. 7 Developmental Processes: A Conceptual Exploration
    (pp. 113-137)

    Governmental innovation emerges from a months- or years-long developmental process, a process that accommodates many players and interests and typically involves many distinguishable subprocesses. But when we say “developmental process,” what exactly do we mean? Certainly, the kind of process we have in mind is complex, with much occasion to feed back on itself. It is hard to model; indeed, I do not think that, in the long run, it can be done very well without the use of computer simulation tools. In this chapter, however, I attempt to do some conceptual spadework using the more primitive tools of words...

  11. 8 The Adoption of Innovation: The Challenge of Learning to Adapt Tacit Knowledge
    (pp. 138-158)

    In 1986, the first year of the Innovations in American Government Awards, one of the winners was the program One Church, One Child. Recognizing that many black children were languishing in foster care, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and a group of African American ministers, under the leadership of a Catholic priest, the Reverend George Clements, undertook to have every African American church adopt one black child (Altshuler, Warrock, and Zegans 1988).

    A few years later, Stephen Jenkins, a Kennedy School graduate student, in an analysis of the replication of One Church, One Child, reported the following...

  12. 9 Does Innovation Lead to Improvement in Public Services? Lessons from the Beacon Scheme in the United Kingdom
    (pp. 159-187)

    This chapter examines whether and how innovation is related to improvement in local public services. Globally, the development of award programs has become a distinctive and sometimes explicit feature of attempts by governments to improve public services or accelerate reform (see Bouckaert 2001; Löffler 2001). However, there is a need to understand the “theory of change” that underlies the use of awards programs by governments and other agencies. Until recently the idea that awards led to public service improvement had been assumed, without a clear framework for analyzing the causal mechanisms (Hartley and Downe 2007).

    I use the Beacon Scheme,...

  13. 10 Innovations in Government: Serving Citizens and Strengthening Democracy
    (pp. 188-198)

    In what is often regarded as a pathbreaking collection of essays,Why People Don’t Trust Government,Joseph Nye, Philip Zelikow, and David King (1997) pointed to numerous surveys and opinion polls that repeatedly show that citizens’ trust in democratic government has diminished. People seem to have lost confidence in the political and electoral processes as evidenced by the dwindling number of people casting their votes. Politicians and bureaucrats are held in low esteem, and there is a widespread perception that government corruption around the world is increasing; more often than not the voters are using their power of the ballot...

  14. 11 Research on Innovations in Government: What Next?
    (pp. 199-206)

    The Innovations in American Government Awards Program and the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation, both housed at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and sister award programs supported by the Ford Foundation can take credit for providing recognition for and supporting the diffusion of innovations in government all over the world. Similarly, the Innovations in American Government Awards Program and the Ash Institute, through the research they have supported, can take credit for enhancing our understanding of innovation in government. The “Kennedy School school” has helped us understand what is happening at the leading edge in...

  15. References
    (pp. 207-220)
  16. Contributors
    (pp. 221-222)
  17. Index
    (pp. 223-232)