1 The Department of Society and Globalisation, Roskilde University2 Roskilde School of Governance, Department of Social Sciences and Business, Roskilde University
Innovation in the public sector has become a buzz word in the last years because the public authorities need to find new ways for delivering public policies and services with the same quality, but for lesser resources. Innovation is a popular catchy word claimed by both academics and practitioners. All seem to give directions about how to modernize and improve the quality in the public sector. However, the study of innovation has not received the rigorous attention as a cross sector interdisciplinary study in political science, public administration and sociology. Innovation is flourishing everywhere like a mantra often without critical reflection and often treated normatively as a synonym of efficiency and more public value. At the same time innovation is generally tackled theoretically and there are few studies that apply the theory to serious empirical analysis. This empirical paper shows how this can be done and reflects on the need for improving theory and methods of studying innovation. In addressing these gaps in the literature, this paper reports on an exploratory study which seeks to contribute to theory-building in this area. The paper presents the results of the first innovation journey of the Children and Youth administration in Gentofte Municipality, Denmark . The investigation departures from the realisation of a new political school vision in Gentofte Municipality. In an innovative way the vision challenges the traditional organisation of the public school system and the roles of politicians, administrators, school leaders, teachers, educators, labour unions, parents and children. The aim of the paper is to examine and develop the theory of innovation within an organisational context, to explain how the organisation understands and operationalizes innovation. And last but not least to highlight the main challenges that innovation raises for the organisation and individuals and what can be done to overcome these challenges.