Towards an Innovative and Democratic Local Government; The case of “Göteborg 2021”
This paper describes how a public service development/innovation process can look like in a democratic environment. Additional emphasizes have been on finding process characteristics within this environment. A single-case study was conducted with data gathered from 16 unstructured interviews and relevant documents. A strategic selection of interviewees were made, selecting participants to represent the entire process as well as to represent different actors in the process. The case, “Göteborg 2021”, is an initiative taken by Gothenburg City Council to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the city in the year 2021 with the vision of being innovative, open and inclusive. Thousands of participants including politicians, academics, officials, voluntary organizations, members of the private sector as well as the public/citizens have been engaged in the process with the aim to develop the public service of the city. The study focus mainly but not exclusively on the relation between the public/citizens and the local authorities in the front-end process a stage in which opportunities are identified and concepts are developed. Theories from the field of democracy, such as deliberative, representation, associative theories, and from the field of innovation and product/service development, such as the Stage-Gate model and the Componential theory of Creativity, were used and compared to the empirical findings. The findings identifies three main phases in the process: initiation, exploration and execution. The inclusion of the public/citizens has mainly been through a consultation participation role in the idea generation stage in which ideas were gathered by officials. The inclusion of other actors, such as the members from the private sector, academia, voluntary organization and other parts of public organizations, have been through deliberative processes in which the participants are given an expert consultancy role in the process. Tendencies were also observed towards using parallel stages during the exploration phase mainly by having a strategy stage while the idea generation and idea scoping/selection were conducted. Selection of promising ideas were based on finding a common strategic fit of themes and symbol projects rather than strictly using business criteria for each idea. Seven characteristics were identified: trust, expertise, engagement, courage, freedom, creative thinking skills and awareness. They highlights main characteristics found in a public process, mainly during an exploration phase, with considerations of being both democratic and innovative. The study recognize a need for further studies in order to understand how democracy and public service development/innovation can coexist in local governments and to investigate how the process characteristics can correlate with one another.
MSc in Knowledge-based Entrepreneurship
Al Fahel, Rodrigue
public sector innovation
Componential Theory of Creativity
New Public governance
Master Degree Project