Innovation for Better Management: The Contribution of Public Innovation Labs

12Dec

Innovation for Better Management: The Contribution of Public Innovation Labs

O BID – Banco Interamericano de Desenvolvimento realizou estudo sobre laboratórios de gestão na Administração Pública. E utilizaram o PENSA – Sala de Ideias, como um de seus casos, em conjunto com o LAB.RIO, o Centro de Operações Rio e o Social Innovation Lab do Uruguai.

Os autores, Sebastián Acevedo e Nicolás Dassen, fizeram uma grande análise de quais critérios são considerados fundamentais para o sucesso desses modelos, e analisaram alguns casos de sucesso do PENSA.

O estudo, na íntegra, está disponível em inglês e espanhol no seguinte endereço: https://publications.iadb.org/handle/11319/7874

A seguir a introdução do estudo em sua versão em inglês.

 

In recent years, countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) have undergone remarkable change. Sustained eco- nomic growth has led to the rise of a new middle class, social demands for better public services, and more participatory mechanisms in the decision-making process of government. Meanwhile, the growing digitization of social, economic, and political activities has given rise to a new, better connected and in- formed digital citizenship than previously.

Meanwhile, the growing digitization of social, economic, and political activities has given rise to a new, better connected and in- formed digital citizenship than previously.

The participation of citizens in digital platforms and the consequent large volumes of data pose a challenge to governments in terms of managing more and better information in an effort to effectively resolve issues of public policy. Driven by new technology in the realm of communications and information, digital citizens expect public institutions to open channels for co-creative value and participation in policy design, implementation, and monitoring processes. Faced with these demands for more effective administration under budget constraint, LAC governments are compelled to increase efficiency. Governments are now expected to be able to innovate and modernize so as to adapt to technological change, budget constraints, and the demands of civil society. To achieve this, nation- al and subnational administrations in the LAC region have begun to create labs for government innovation. At a global level, most labs have

Governments are now expected to be able to innovate and modernize so as to adapt to technological change, budget constraints, and the demands of civil society. To achieve this, nation- al and subnational administrations in the LAC region have begun to create labs for government innovation. At a global level, most labs have flexible resource management, knowledge of design methodologies, capacities for low-cost experimentation, and are able to implement pilot projects in controlled environments. Lab methodologies also include the involvement of citizens in the decision-making process or promote the collaboration between various state and non-state actors. As innovation in government involves high risk and can have significant consequences in the event of failure, innovation labs have begun to position themselves as entities that are able to absorb those risks and promote the adoption of new practices in public administration.

This study examines the contribution of labs to the innovation ecosystem in the Latin American public sector. In order to promote effective, scalable, and sustainable policies that will modernize the state, it is of vital importance to understand the characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses of these labs. Given the recent rise in innovation labs in Latin America, it is timely to draw lessons from new experiences, including from other parts of the world, and to discuss the roles, characteristics, challenges, and the ways to maximize their value addition in government operations.

This paper highlights the difference between innovation labs and traditional government agencies, discuss the advantage of labs as promoters of innovation, and analyze the potential challenges they face in terms of effectiveness. Among the challenges that will be examined are the (i) capacity of labs to innovate the issues and processes that are of importance on the agendas of other government institutions; (ii) effective adoption, scaling up, and replication of innovative models by and among government agencies; and (iii) the sustainability and continuity of developed and implemented solutions.

In comparison to other regions, the increase in the number of public innovation labs in LAC is a consequence of a swelling open government agenda. From an in-depth study of labs in LAC, including their objectives, ventures, institutional status, and rhetoric, the majority have been found to concentrate on issues of citizen participation, open data, transparency, and co-creation, in an effort to improve the interrelationship of the state and civil society, the latter of which feels disenfranchised from government. In contrast, a brief review of innovation labs around the world suggests that a broader range of public sector issues are being addressed, such as government expenditure ef ciency and revenue collection effectiveness.

Moreover, labs in Latin America have not considered pilot testing in controlled environments a priority, as have those in other regions. The cases under review in this study demonstrate that there have been less instants of testing (e.g., randomized experi- ments and impact evaluations of pilot projects). This not only compromises the ability of a lab to manage the risks of public sector innovation; it prevents them from effectively absorbing the risks in support of other government institutions. Rather, many innovation labs in LAC position themselves as entities that support government agencies by implementing projects relating to citizen participation and public co-creative value. Many of these labs, however, do not conduct rigorous impact evaluations of their projects, giving rise to a strong case for labs in LAC to develop the capacity to brand themselves as entities that are able to channel the most risky innovations of government.

The study of the labs falls within the broader research agenda on public sector innovation, its drivers and impact on state modernization. Thus, the characteristics — based on the literature — are presented in terms of greater levels of public sector innovation. In addition, a hypothetical discussion will be made of the aspects that promote the diffusion of innovations among government agencies and different governments.

The empirical component of this study consists of a survey of innovation lab directors, as well as interviews held with directors and members of labs, public employees who have interacted with labs, nongovernment (NGO) stakeholders, citizens, and members of civil society organizations. A total of 24 people were interviewed (Annex I). Also reviewed were public and private documents relating to the characteristics of labs, the legislations that regulate them, their projects, and the impact assessments they undertake.

The labs that participated in the survey include Lab.Rio (Rio de Janeiro); PENSA, Sala de Ideas, Rio de Janeiro; Laboratorio de Innovación de Quito, or LINQ; Laboratorio para la Ciudad, Mexico City; LabProdam, São Paulo; Laboratorio de Innovación Social, or LIS, Uruguay; Laboratorio de Gobierno, Chile; Laboratorio Hácker, Chamber of Deputies, Brazil; Laboratorio de Innovación y Gobierno Abierto, Buenos Aires; iGovSP, São Paulo; Mobilab, São Paulo; Vivelab, Bogota; Laboratorio de Innovación de Xalapa and Laboratorio de Datos, Mexico.

In addition to pro ling the labs based on the survey of their directors, the paper presents two case studies. The first relates to LIS, administered by the Government of Uruguay, and the second examines three agencies that promote public innovation in Rio de Janeiro: Lab.Rio; PENSA Sala de Ideas; and the Rio Operations Center. These studies include an in-depth analysis of lab management processes and they identify the way the contextual characteristics can impact on the effectiveness in promoting innovation in their respective governments.

The second section of this paper presents a theoretical framework for public sector innovation that is based on a review of the literature. It addresses ve factors that are usually associated with this type of innovation, namely, the (i) input of stakeholder views, (ii) creation of internal and external policy networks, (iii) support from political leaders in favor of innovative activities or their implementation, (iv) exibility in the utilization of resources, and (v) risk management with speci c instruments. The third sec- tion contains a general description of innovation labs, highlighting their key value additions vis-à-vis traditional public institutions and identifying their distinct features in Latin America.

The fourth section discusses the risks and potential challenges that labs face, and it analyzes them as initiatives created to promote government innovation. Their difficulties to intervene into key public agendas and to ensure that innovations are effectively adopted, scaled up, and sustained over time are discussed throughout the paper. The key factors for success are identified and suggestions are made on methods to overcome the barriers, based on the survey and case studies.

 

Leave a Reply