Modernize the Public Sector through Innovation? A Challenge for the Role of Applied Social Science and Evaluation

Finn Hansson, Maria Theresa Norn, Torben Bundgaard Vad

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    The New Public Management drive to innovate in the public sector has become less influential and new initiatives to drive innovation are now sought. There are well-known challenges when using social science research to inform innovation in the public sector. In order to address these challenges, this article presents the case of an evaluation of the Program on Research for Innovation and Renewal in the Public Sector (abbreviated FIFOS) under the Research Council of Norway. The evaluation described a number of problems in implementing new innovative knowledge, not only because of the organization of projects but also because of the still-common linear thinking in the application of new knowledge, especially in relation to innovation. A discussion and critique is presented and a different approach to the implementation of innovations based on ideas from organizational learning is proposed. Such an alternative strategy for producing and organizing the use of social science research to inform innovation in the public sector demands the rethinking of relevant evaluation models. In order to evaluate such a new approach, the article advocates new formative evaluation strategies, where learning and dialogue are the focus.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEvaluation: The International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)244-260
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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