PSI-Co – Public-Sector Innovation through Collaboration (2016-2020)

Description of the research

Nowadays, Public Sector Innovation (PSI) is high on government agendas across OECD countries. Confronted with major budgetary pressures and grand societal challenges, governments worldwide experience a need to step beyond conventional wisdoms and sedimented practices. Innovations refer not only to qualitatively changing the form, content, and repertoire of goods, services (service innovations), but also to transforming the underlying problem understanding, policy objective and program theory (policy innovations) (Sorensen and Torfing, 2011).
Public sector innovation literature increasingly asserts that the ability of public organisations to engage and set-up collaborative interaction within and across governmental levels and with societal actors determines their innovative capacity. Government can set up collaborative governance arrangements by engaging in (a) transversal coordination and collaboration with other departments and agencies within government as well as across governments. Government can also engage (b) individual citizens, (for profit and non-profit) organisations and organized interests through co-production or other forms of participation.
Despite the growing awareness of the need for collaboration, there is a lack of knowledge about how such collaborative governance arrangements results in meaningful innovations regarding policies and services, and how different forms of collaborative governance interact and reinforce each other. Also it is unclear what organisational and individual conditions need to be present within administration to foster collaborative governance arrangements. This project will address this research gap by conducting a multi method study on collaborative innovation, studying both (a) how collaborative governance can foster innovation, and (b) by what conditions, in turn, collaborative innovation is supported. The project uses multiple methods to address these questions, combining (1) a multiple case study phase, (2) a validation phase (Delphi and international validation), (3) a design-phase with two test cases, using Living Lab methodology and (4) a gap-analysis phase, using quantitative survey data, and (5) this in an international comparative set-up. Figure 1 shows the set-up of the project. The research will be conducted on collaborative arrangements among administrations/agencies of the Belgian federal government.



Description of the project

The project is supervised by Profs. Drs. Koen Verhoest (University of Antwerp, General coordinator), Trui Steen (KU Leuven), Catherine Fallon (University of Liège), as well as David Aubin and myself (Université catholique de Louvain). The project is conducted by Tom Langbroek (University of Antwerp), Charlotte Van Dijck (University of leuven) and Céline riche (Université catholique de Louvain). David Aubin and I act as cosupervisors of Cécile’s PhD project (click here for more info).

The project is funded by the Brain-Be program of Belspo – the Belgian Research Action Through Interdisciplinary Networks of the Federal Public Planning Service Science Policy.