Innovation in American Government
Challenges, Opportunities, and Dilemmas
Editor: Alan Altshuler Robert D. Behn, editor Brookings Institution Press, Washington, DC 1997
Innovation does happen—even in government! Despite all the news about government scandals and failures, public officials are innovative. This book analyzes numerous examples of ingenious problem solving—in education in California, in the Department of Juvenile Justice in New York City, in government operations in Minnesota, in human service programs across the country.
All organizations, both public and private, need innovation, but making innovation work in government is a greater challenge than doing so in business. This book identifies a number of dilemmas that complicate the process of innovating in American government. For example, there is the "trust dilemma": Innovation may be necessary to establish public faith in the ability of government agencies to perform, but before the public grants agencies a license to be truly innovative, it needs to be convinced that these same agencies have the ability to perform.
The contributors to this book analyze a number of issues raised by the task of innovation, including: Who is responsible for innovating? How can innovative individuals and teams be held accountable? What kinds of organizational arrangements beget the most innovation? How can innovation be fostered in agencies devoted to routinization? How should innovative ideas be disseminated? And what exactly is an "innovation" anyway?
The contributors gathered data for this book from winners and finalists in the Ford Foundation's Innovations Awards program, as well as from other innovators and innovations.
In addition to the editors, the contributors are Babak J. Armajani, Michael Barzelay, W. Lance Bennett, Paul Berman, Richard F. Elmore, Robert M. Entman, Lee S. Friedman, Thomas N. Gilmore, Olivia Golden, James Krantz, Laurence E. Lynn Jr., Mark H. Moore, Beryl Nelson, Ellen Schall, Malcolm Sparrow, William Spelman, Deborah A. Stone, and Marc D. Zegans.