Public sector innovation & transformative change

Session organisers:
  • Laura Sariego Kluge (Universidad de Costa Rica, Costa Rica)
  • Diana Morales (Umeå University, Sweden)

This panel seeks to discuss possibilities and limitations for development through territorial innovation beyond the traditional capital cumulative framework to one where different end goals for innovation can emerge (see Coenen and Morgan, 2018). This means shifting the perspective from industry to other actors or sectors, such as the state. The relevance of public sector innovation (PSI), in contrast with social innovation, relates to the sector’s impact in the social, environmental and economic processes, outcomes of its political reach and as mediator of processes; and of its role in the creation, governance and steering of markets. The accelerating pace of socio-technical changes and the climate crisis are making public sector innovation (PSI) particularly relevant, as it is part of the toolset for public bodies to be more prepared to achieve technological diversification. Yet, what is really happening on the ground? How can territorial innovation fundamentally disrupt structures that perpetuate economic development imbalances and allow for transformative change? We welcome papers that discuss public sector innovation in relation, but not limited to:

  • How can we understand and explain the role of the public sector in emerging innovations? Where is PSI emerging and why?
  • What roles do agency and leadership play?
  • How does governance and regional challenges influence PSI?
  • How does PSI reproduce the economic systems and imbalances in place?
  • What are the limits to PSI and the risks for it reproducing unevenness?
  • Is PSI influenced by uneven development and vice-versa?
  • How does PSI shape institutions and vice-versa?

Coenen, L., & Morgan, K. (2020). Evolving geographies of innovation: existing paradigms, critiques and possible alternatives. Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift – Norwegian Journal of Geography, 74(1), 13-24. doi:10.1080/00291951.2019.1692065.


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