Since 2007/2008 governments all over the world are facing considerable economic constraints. Public expenditures are reduced from central and local governments challenging the existing ways of creating and producing welfare. The premise of work smarter not harder is applied in different policy areas in order to maintain the quality of policies and services with fewer resources. Within this context traditional ways of governing, thinking and implementing policies and services seem to fail and call for new ways of understanding politics. New Public Management (NPM) reforms emerged in the 1980s in most Western countries with the purpose of reforming the public sector. However, the mechanisms of these modernising reforms do not provide governments the solutions required to the existing problems. Among other reasons for the silo and competitive thinking embedded in NPM. New and creative ideas are necessary to transform governments’ capacity to cope with wicked problems. Innovation in the public sector can be a way of rethinking old ideas and practices and find solutions to the new problems. In order to create an innovation culture and work systematically with innovation, politicians and public managers need to understand the potentials and risks of innovation, to rethink organisation structures and to accommodate organisational values, norms and routines in coherence with innovation practices. But what is innovation? And how is it possible to enhance the quality in the public sector through innovation? These questions will be answered in the following paper from a theoretical point of view. Literature about innovation is broad and fails to provide a normative definition of innovation. This is because innovation is understood as a container concept and normatively defined. This generates analytical problems in the study of innovation in praxis.
Innovation in the Public Sector; new public governance