What are the critical success factors in managing innovation in the public sector?

Inga Jóna Jónsdóttir


This paper aims to contribute to the knowledge and understanding of innovation in the public sector. The goal is to shed light on the first steps in the developmental or learning process involved when a new solution emerges from everyday work. The method involves descriptive analysis of managers’ narratives of events and procedures; furthermore, interpretive analysis and explanations of managers’ stories of actions and communication. The research seeks to answer the question of what the key success factors are in managing innovation in the public sector. Results indicate that managers clearly are the entrepreneurs in the developmental and learning process. Their tacit knowledge and management education, along with social need, provides the drive that initiates innovation. Communication is a significant factor in the innovation process; recurring themes in managers’ narratives are dialogue, dissemination of information, and active listening. Another important element is teamwork where diversity is ensured.


Innovation; public sector services; expansive learning; communication; teamwork.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.13177/irpa.a.2014.10.1.4


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