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Innovation in the Public Sector

Innovation in the Public Sector

Borins presents three types of innovation in the public sector; politically led crisis response, organizational turnarounds led by agency chiefs, and bottom-up innovation. Among the three, bottom-up innovation is the most relevant in the public sector (Borins, 2002). The bottom-up innovation is about more than just presenting an idea to the management. The process requires advocates within the organization and often becomes the subject of debate. Innovations aligned with the bottom-up framework are introduced as pilot programs before being implemented across the organization. Consequently, an evaluation exercise is undertaken to ensure they align with public needs.

One of the reasons why bottom-up innovation is associated with the public sector is due to the access to resources that will support the innovations. Initiators of bottom-up innovation actively participate throughout the implementation cycle, and the public sector provides a good platform to undertake that (Borins, 2002). For instance, young people working in the public sector may be interested in researching why public officers leave their organizations. The group must approach the federal and local governments for funding to implement such a project.

Borins’ ideal innovation types are not mostly found in the public sector because effective political leadership requires decision-making that explores a wide range of options (OECD, 2014). Besides, there is a need for broad consultation and express research to gather information. Agency chiefs should approach clients and stakeholders to discuss how they can serve them better to make a difference in their organizations. Also, successful bottom-up innovations require consultation between agency chiefs and political leaders to make positive changes (OECD, 2014). Therefore, it is not possible to apply any of the three ideal innovation types independently.


Borins, S. (2002). Leadership and innovation in the public sector. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 23(8), 467–476.

OECD. (2014). Innovating the Public Sector: from Ideas to Impact Building Organisational Capacity for Public Sector Innovation.


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Innovation in the Public Sector

Innovation in the Public Sector

Borins presents three ideal types of innovation in the public sector. Describe the ideal type you think is found most in the public sector. Why do you think these three ideal types of innovation are not found more often in the public sector?

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