The Search for Serendipity: Adaptive Management as Method to (Non)Manage Open Innovation in the Public Sector

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In response to complex societal challenges, western public sectors increasingly engage in long-term collaborations with citizens to increase welfare innovation and wellbeing. Still, empirical studies are limited making it difficult to compare findings across national contexts and other sectors. While research has highlighted barriers relating to control, there is little knowledge on how managers can deviate from control and manage collaborative contributions without having formal authority. This study applies the concept of open innovation to the public sector and provides novel insights on how grand societal challenges can be tackled by drawing attention to adaptive management – understood as a continual process of reflecting and acting on the practical consequences of decisions. Examining multiple case studies in a Danish municipality and drawing on Wittgenstein’s theory on ‘being guided’, we propose adaptive management as a paradoxical form of management that enables control and guidance through openness and non-guidance. Moreover, we suggest that this management form appears overlooked and effective for leveraging the innovation potential of public-voluntary collaborations.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2018
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Event5th Annual World Open Innovation Conference - San Francisco, United States
Duration: 13 Dec 201814 Dec 2018
Conference number: 5


Conference5th Annual World Open Innovation Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco

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