Collaboration and Innovation in Public Administration

Collaboration and Innovation in Public Administration Order Instructions: This is a Graduate course. Please use double-spaced format. Responses should be in APA style and must include citations and a bibliography.

Collaboration and Innovation in Public Administration
Collaboration and Innovation in Public Administration

You are strongly advised to access a variety of information from academic journals and other scholarly works. Ensure that your answers are well-organized and that they respond to the specific question asked, display the range and depth of your learning, and demonstrate your ability to conform to the analysis, writing, and research standards of master’s level work. The question must be answered fully. The question needs to be 11 pages and should have at least 9 references.

Question 1

Collaboration and innovation are two words at the heart of modern-day Public Administration. Examine the academic literature on public sector collaboration and alliances within the field. What opportunities do collaboration between public agencies and non-profit organizations, or between public agencies and for-profit organizations, offer for innovatively addressing issues and challenges in the public sector? As a part of this, please explore in detail three examples of real-world collaboration, either at the local, state, national, or international level.

Collaboration and Innovation in Public Administration Sample Answer

The world today is being faced by an avalanche of problems that need radical solutions. The major challenges include an aging society, climate change, financial crises and obesity. Man scholars including Harris and Albury (2009) and Nambisan (2008) feel that the current state of the public sector is incompetent to finding solutions for these problems. These scholars propose collaboration and innovation as a new approach towards strengthening the public sector in order to deal with these problems and many more. While it is inevitable to acknowledge the deficits in the public sector, one has to be skeptical about the form and extent of innovation required for amicable solutions to the major global problems to be found. One of the major contributing factors to this skepticism is the lack of research in public sector innovation. Moore (2005) states that there is no consensus on what constitutes innovation in the public sector.

The private sector is more competitive than the public sector. This has led to it having more innovations in order to create competitive advantages for different industries and players in those industries. Innovations are important since they help in opening up new markets, in improving products and in cutting costs for private enterprises. The lack of innovation in the private sector means that a company will lose its competitive advantage, will witness shrinkage in profits and market share and will eventually close down. The need to for innovation in the private sector has led large enterprises to devote entire departments to research and development or to rely on crowd-sourcing in order to improve on the products they have or open new markets. On the contrary, small and medium enterprises, in satisfying their need for competing with larger enterprises, form alliance that allow them to pool their resources and play catch-up by copying successful systems.

The public sector is a little trickier when it comes to innovation as there is skepticism in its capacity for investing in innovations for organizations, services and policies. Most people employed in the private sector and majority of people in the larger population view the public sector as an area that is devoid of inertia and is riddled with bureaucracy and a stalemate that makes innovation difficult. In the 1980s, the neo-liberalist movement garnered support due to its stance on the status quo propagated by the public sector. This perception of the public sector is not completely off mark as it is riddled by extensive use of formality in rules and procedures, has hierarchies that are multi-layered, has no incentives for growth and improvement, has organizational silos, and has divided political leadership at the top of most bureaucracies. These factors are deterrent to innovation and are key to the public sector being labeled as stagnant (Halvorsen et al., 2005). The myopia exhibited in the public sector extends to use of resources for the sake of fighting territorial wars with other public bureaucracies and for maintaining internal coordination.

The notion that there has been little innovation in the public sector is somewhat misguided. This is evidenced by the fact that there has been steady growth in the sector since it does not resemble what was there 20 or 30 years ago. The new public sector is governed by more conscious policies in terms of climate change management, preventative health care and labor-market relationships. The digitization of services and the changes in organizational structures and cultures have radically altered the operations of most public sector organizations. Although many of the changes have been necessitated by changing times, they nonetheless indicate that the public sector is driven by innovation albeit minimalist.

One of the greatest drivers of public sector innovation has been the political powers of the day that have promised and delivered on reforms in the public sector when seeking for votes and in numerous settings including debates in parliament and other forums including press briefings and public hearings. Another avenue that has helped advance innovation in the sector has been the presence of well-educated and knowledgeable individuals in various capacities in public bureaucracies. These competent and driven individuals adhere to professional standards and are ambitious enough meaning that they seek to improve services in the public sector so that they can build their portfolios and attract more responsibilities in addition to propping themselves for bigger and better challenges.

The other group of individuals that is responsible for innovation in the public sector is the public that is the recipient of the services offered.  The public is more involved in molding the public sector that it is in the private sector. They give their opinions through voicing criticism and offering constructive feedback in forums such as public hearings, town gatherings and board meetings. They also offer their opinions through threatening to boycott services and products and by voting the leadership they want in some bureaucracies. The combination of threats for boycotts and voicing concerns is a major motivator in encouraging change in the public sector. The sheer size of the public sector and the lengths to which it spans means that it has the capacity, more than the private sector, to explore and exploit options. This is because it has nearly limitless resources meaning that it can absorb costs that are associated with failed innovations.

Borins (2008) argues that many countries in the world and especially western democracies are preoccupied with ensuring that innovation is at the top of their administrative and political agendas. This is evidenced by the numerous initiatives including the issuing of white papers on innovation, setting up of innovation labs, and creation of innovation ministries. In order for the personnel being charged with the responsibility of fostering innovation to be ready for the challenge, there have been special training courses that have been created.

Innovation is now widely used in the public sector but skeptics caution that the fashion may soon dissipate as have all other buzzwords that were synonymous with the public sector prior to it. The majority of experts otherwise view innovation as a means of reducing costs in public sector operations and also an opportunity for policy deadlocks to be broken while services are improved for the betterment of the population at large, private enterprises, and all other stakeholders. There are three historic factors that contribute to the current focus on innovation. First is the relationship between limited resources and the rising pressures and expectations of the public that has diminished the fiscal crisis. Traditionally, the public’s demand for better services was met by increased budgetary allocation to the public sector. While this is no longer possible, the public sector has been forced to craft more innovative solutions to meet these needs.

The second factor is the increasing difficulty of problems that are being faced by modern civilizations including climate changes, rising poverty levels, rural-urban migration and overpopulation in urban areas. These problems are abstract since they are difficult to quantify and consequently difficult in managing. These complexities warrant the application of specialized knowledge in order to mitigate against conflicts between various stakeholders. Standard solutions and increased budgetary allocation cannot solve these problems meaning that more creativity is warranted. The third factor is globalization that has increased competition not only between enterprises but also between governments making the most innovative governments also the winners in exportation of knowledge and solution of domestic problems.  The innovativeness of the public sector can translate to the private sector and form the difference between two nations.

Innovation is a complex process that enables for problems and challenges facing the public sector to be defined so that creative solutions are developed. The process has many feedback loops and jumps that must be navigated for the best solutions to be identified and the best strategies implemented. Innovation is often learning based and intentional albeit with chance discoveries. The starting point for having an innovative organization is breaking down conventional wisdom as well as challenging established practices. One of the major sources of innovation is the private sector. Contrary to popular belief, innovation does not always stem from new inventions but is rather mainly a translation of policies that are successful in other areas into present situations. Thus, the policies, ideas and solutions that have contributed to the success of for-profit and non-profit organizations can be implemented in the public sector context to solve recurring problems and address the changing challenges.

Collaboration between public organizations with for-profit and non-profit organizations should not be based on the development of new solutions for recurring problems but on how well already established and tested solutions can be tweaked to address existing and arising problems. One of the most reliable sources for solutions is digital technology. This development has given rise to opportunities that if well exploited creates a platform through which the public sector, the private sector and citizens of a country interact for the improvement of enterprise and service delivery. The exploitation of digital technologies has led to challenges and consequent improvement in the rules of engagement between different stakeholders.

Elected politicians, public managers, policy experts and citizens have an obligation towards the improvement of public bureaucracies. However, these groups are not enough as they have limited knowledge. Consequently, collaboration with the private sector allows for the incorporation of innovative entrepreneurs that have the necessary skills to articulate problems and craft possible solutions. These experts also possess knowledge on material flows and mobilization of immaterial resources to the different points of use or consumption. These experts have the necessary knowhow to exploit windows or opportunities that arise in the public sector reform. Traditionally, political theories placed the responsibility of improving the public sector on elected officials. However, development in the area has shifted the focus from these officials to public managers or to private contractors. Additionally, public employees no longer play a passive role in the operations of their organizations. There has been a radical shift that has opened an avenue for their involvement in the new concept of user driven innovation.

Undoubtedly, collaboration between the public sector and various domains in the private sector leads to public innovation. Furthermore, the involvement of many actors in the political and social contexts in a collaborative context allows for even greater innovation in the public sector. Solutions to complex problems can only be developed where there is a relationship between all stakeholders. The most important aspect of these relationships should be trust. Collaboration ensures that relationships are trust based and that there is a cross-fertilization of ideas that are both creative and new and fit into solution of the defined problems. Sorensen and Torfing (2011) argue that new solutions can only be implemented if there is joint ownership between different stakeholders including private enterprises and the public sector which should be facilitated by coordination and exchange of resources. Bommert (2010) asserts that a case can be made for collaborative innovation as it ensures that the public sector benefits from drawing upon knowledge, creativity, imagination, resources, courage, political authority and transformative leadership that is contained in both the private enterprise and public sector human resources. Collaboration ensures that there is sharing of ideas which is often absent in market competition and bureaucracy.

The public sector and private enterprises both gain by engaging in collaborative ventures with each other simply because they exchange ideas and share the risks and benefits that are associated with innovation. Left to their own devices, private enterprises engage in cutthroat competition that more often ends up in the patent office. Similarly, public bureaucracies do not have incentives for collaboration between each other and only engage at the most rudimentary level inside their institutional boundaries. They do not have the incentives and infrastructure to exchange ideas at a strategic level where skills and competencies are shared throughout organizational structures and hierarchies.

Large firms have realized the constraints of market competition and bureaucracy in the public sector and are now actively pursuing private public partnerships. Public bureaucracies have responded to these developments by breaking down their organizational silos, creating inter-organizational networks and flattening their organizational structures. Cross-sector collaboration between the private and public organizations has ensured that all opportunities for innovativeness are pursued at a mutually agreeable cost. Innovations are done close to where services are produced in the public sector so that they are directly tested by public sector employees with different backgrounds in a wide array of professions through collaboration with users. Policy makers and managers are also present in these settings so that they observe the operations of different innovations and work to improve on them.

The private sector can be considered as being way ahead in innovation. As a starting point, the public sector should seek to capitalize on existing knowledge in the private sector before attempting new innovations. This opportunity has been realized by a number of public sector organizations that have created networks with private sector executives in order to transfer some of the knowledge into the public sector. Eggers and Singh (2009) argue that the interdependence between the private and public sectors can lead to creation of viable solutions to the problems that are a constant source of difficulty in the public sector.

In 1992, Clinton campaigned on the platform of increasing standards for federal fuel economy from 28 to 40 miles per gallon. The president and his running mate, Gore (1992) referred to the fuel situation as a mortal threat to the security of every nation. US automakers at the time were vehemently against this move and they had blocked the amendments to the law in Congress in the previous administration and had instead raised mileage standards. The Clinton administration thought it prudent to avoid a direct conflict with automakers since it realized that achieving the standards it envisaged would require much more effort than what the industry would have been willing to concede. The government instead consulted with experts in the automobile industry with the intention of changing the design of the automobile altogether instead of making improvements. The administration entered into a public private partnership with three of the US’s largest car makers including Ford, GM and Chrysler. The partnership was referred to as the PNGV (partnership for the new generation vehicles). The goal of the PNGV was the creation and marketing of cars with three times the fuel economy of those in 1993 with no sacrifice in terms of performance and costs. The move was collaborative as the undersecretary of commerce worked with executives from the three companies and ensured that scientists and technicians had access to the state of the art government laboratories. Buntin (1997) states that the developers had a direct line to the White House and had access to $300 million in annual spending for research and development. The PNGV was discontinued by the Bush administration and in its place was an appeal to shift focus to the development of hydrogen fuelled cars (Garsten, 2002)

One of the earlier forms of private public partnership occurred in New York city starting in the early 1980s until early 2000s. The city was hit by a fiscal crisis that made funds for maintenance of its parks scarce. Since the city was growing at a very high rate, most of the parks became dangerous places for the public. The city management was forced to improvise and implemented a strategy that entailed enlisting private firms in maintenance, upgrades and management of the parks. There were several outlets that expressed interest and included conventional volunteers dubbed friends of the park, conventional outsourcing and more complex arrangements that required sharing of discretion.

The most notable group was a coalescing of private citizens into a non-profit organization dubbed the Central Park Conservancy that took up responsibility of New York’s largest park in the late 90s. Other parks like the Bryant Park were delegated to the business improvement district, which was mandated to collect special levies from businesses around the park for its maintenance and management. These partnerships helped steer the parks of New York at a time when the city could not. The partnerships were innovative since the city did not cede ownership of the parks but rather empowered non-governmental actors to upgrade and maintain them at a small cost to the city.

Presently across the US, there are many public private partnerships that are ongoing. Some of the most common partnerships are with state governments and private enterprises for building, repairing and maintaining public infrastructure. The state government of Pennsylvania is planning to have at least 500 of its bridges replaced. The plan is to give the contract to a single firm. The project is estimated to cost around $1.2 billion if financed through traditional means. However, the state is looking to enter into a partnership with a company that is willing to take the contract at a lower fee.

The planned construction in Pennsylvania is expected to follow the model that was adopted for the construction of the Goethals Bridge connecting Staten Island in New York to New Jersey and which was undertaken by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.  The plan is for the port to reimburse the private developers that took the contract through the payment of regular instalments while the bridge and road will be available for use. This mode of payment is referred to as availability payment and is involved in numerous other projects across the US. The New York port authority intends to apply the same model in the replacement of the terminal at LaGuardia Airport in a project estimated to cost over $3.6 billion. While the company given the contract is expected to maintain and manage the terminal until 2050, construction will have been complete by 2021.

The use of private public partnerships is on the rise. These partnerships are as a result of collaborative ventures between the public and the private sector informed by the need to solve the complex problems of the 21st century. The advantage of these partnerships is that they present mutual benefits and allow for shared risks between stakeholders in the private and public sectors.

Collaboration and Innovation in Public Administration References

Bommert, B. (2010). Collaborative innovation in the public sector. International Public Management Review, 11(1), 15-33.

Borins, S. (ed.). (2008). Innovations in Government. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.

Buntin, J. (1997). From confrontation to cooperation: how Detroit and Washington became partners. Kennedy School of Government Case Study. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University.

Eggers, W.D., & Singh, K.S. (2009). The Public Innovator’s Playbook: Nurturing Bold Ideas in Government. Deloitte Research.

Garsten, E. (2002). Bush abandons high-mileage program for hydrogen fuel-cell. Associated Press State and Regional Wire Service, 9 Jan.

Gore, A., Jr. (1992). Earth in the Balance. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

Halvorsen, T., Hauknes, J., Miles, I., & Roste, R. (2005). On the differences between public and private sector innovation. Publin Report, D9.

Harris, M., & Albury, D. (2009). Why radical innovation is needed for the recession and beyond: The Innovation Imperative. NESTA discussion paper, March.

Moore, M.H. (2005). Breaking-Through Innovations and Continuous Improvement: Two Different Models of Innovative Processes in the Public Sector. Public Money and Management, 25(1), 43-50.

Nambisan, S. (2008). Transforming Government Through Collaborative Innovation. IBM Center for the Business of Government.

Sorensen, E., & Torfing, J. (2011). Enhancing collaborative innovation in the public sector. Administration and Society, 43(8), 842-68.



Unlike most other websites we deliver what we promise;

  • Our Support Staff are online 24/7
  • Our Writers are available 24/7
  • Most Urgent order is delivered with 6 Hrs
  • 100% Original Assignment Plagiarism report can be sent to you upon request.

GET 15 % DISCOUNT TODAY use the discount code PAPER15 at the order form.

Type of paper Academic level Subject area
Number of pages Paper urgency Cost per page: