Public Sector Innovation: a matter of social innovation & workplace innovation?

Written by , OPSI Staff on 3 July 2014

Innovation in the public sector is not only relevant for tax payers (value for money, lower taxes), public sector employment (good quality jobs), or users (citizens satisfied about using public services). It is also good for the economy as a whole. Because reducing unnecessary costs in public spending allows you to invest more in essential public needs.

‘TNO Innovation for Life’ is involved in public sector innovation in many ways. I will give you two examples.

1) In the Netherlands the ‘working smarter network’ is a community that fosters innovation amongst public sector professionals. The idea is simple: a public servant identifies a situation that he/she believes needs improvement. This may be a ‘bureaucracy’ problem: the administrative culture is not allowing the professional to do his/her job or preventing the organisation from fulfilling its public role. The professional signals the issue to the network, and the network helps to set up a Do Tank (not just a Think Tank!) consisting of a handful of other civil servant professionals from other organisations. As a team they develop a solution which is then presented to a manager who helps implement the plan. Together they fix it! Visit (if you’re fluent in Dutch) or see Working Smarter practices in public administration (p. 100-103).

2) Another example is TNO’s involvement in European projects on social innovation and public sector innovation. Google for example or You can read these for yourself. I just want to point out another project, namely EUWIN (#euwin), European Workplace Innovation Network, for two reasons. First, just like the OECD Observatory it has a lot of cases that you can explore in their knowledge bank if you visit Second, it looks at making workplaces and their organisations better in terms of job quality and organisational performance simultaneously. I think this is exactly what public sector organisations can learn from #euwin to become more innovative! Check it out!

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