Towards a Deeper Understanding of Public Sector Innovation

  • Luise Li Langergaard
  • John Damm Scheuer
Part of the Service Science: Research and Innovations in the Service Economy book series (SSRI)


This chapter contributes to a deeper understanding of public sector service innovation, exploring how it evolves in interaction between actors in hierarchies, markets and networks. A typology of innovations in public sector services is developed and a model of public sector service production is presented. Then, drawing on an in-depth review of the public innovation, public policy and public administration literature, service innovation in three sorts of circuits and relationships between actors is identified. A number of characteristics of public sector service innovation are derived from the analysis, and it is concluded that public sector service innovations may be diverse and varied. They may be initiated top-down or bottom-up, formalised or policy based, organisation or employee led, and initiated by professionals or by users. It is suggested that the public service innovation process may be described as “co-evolution”, emphasising the view that change may occur in all interacting populations of public sector service organisations. Innovation is seen as happening in the encounter between people situated in hierarchies, networks and market-led organisations; and as evolving as iterative, interactive and heterogeneous processes where goals are often relatively unclear, resulting in innovations that must often be understood retrospectively rather than as intended outcomes of the execution of detailed plans.


Public Sector Service Organisation Service Innovation Organisational Innovation Wicked Problem 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This study was made possible through a grant from the ServPPIN project. This collaborative research project was financed through the EU 7thFramework Programme and included researchers from 12 universities and research centers in 10 EU countries:, Spain, France, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Austria, Slovenia and Hungary. The project focused on the role of public and private services on growth and welfare and the particular role of public-private innovation networks in that connection. This chapter was first written to ServPPIN work package 2, ServPPIN WP 2 D2.1 (A1.2) but was then revised in order to be included in this book.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luise Li Langergaard
    • 1
  • John Damm Scheuer
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Communication, Business and Information TechnologiesRoskilde UniversityRoskildeDenmark

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