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Public Management Innovation

Sandford Borins

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Previous research based on a sample of the best applications to the State and Local Government Innovation Awards (1990-1994) identified the most frequently observed characteristics of public management innovations: They are holistic, use new information technology, incorporate process improvements, empower citizens and communities, and involve partnerships with the private sector. This sample also demonstrated the importance of middle managers and front-line staff as initiators, indicated that the innovations were more frequently a response to internal problems or opportunities than crises, and showed that the innovations were more frequently the result of planning than of Behn’s model of “groping along.” This research was replicated with three new samples of innovations: applications to the Institute of Public Administration of Canada’s public management innovation award, the Innovations in American Government awards, and the Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management innovation awards. Preliminary results for all three replications were similar to the original study.