Publications

    The Persistence of Innovation in Government
    Borins, Sandford. 2014. The Persistence of Innovation in Government. Brookings. Abstract

    Sandford Borins, Brookings, 2014

    In The Persistence of Innovation in Government, Sandford Borins maps the changing landscape of American public sector innovation in the twenty-first century, largely addressing three key questions: Who innovates? When, why, and how do they do it? What are the persistent obstacles and the proven methods for overcoming them? Probing both the process and the content of innovation in the public sector, Borins identifies major shifts and important continuities. His examination of public innovation combines several elements: his analysis of the Harvard Kennedy School's Innovations in American Government Awards program; significant new research on government performance; and a fresh look at the findings of his earlier, highly praised book Innovating with Integrity: How Local Heros Are Transforming American Government.

    Sandford Borins, 2014

    With this report, Professor Borins continues two decades of research analyzing winners of and applicants to the Harvard University Kennedy School’s Innovations in American Government Awards. This report presents a comparison of the applications received by the program in the 1990s (1990 to 1994) with those received in 2010. In 2001, the IBM Center for The Business of Government published The Challenge of Innovating in Government, Professor Borins’ report on his 1990s research on innovation.

    Professor Borins has found that innovation is alive and well and persisting at all levels of government in the United States, with both shifts and continuities from the 1990s to 2010. One of the most significant findings by Professor Borins is the increasing proportion of innovation initiatives involving collaboration. In 2010, 65 percent of the innovation applicants reported external collaboration as a project component—more than double the 28 percent reported in the 1990s. Nearly 60 percent of the applicants also reported collaboration within government. Significantly, award semifinalists in 2010 reported an even higher incidence of collaboration, with over 80 percent of the semifinalists reporting external collaboration and collaboration within government.

    The important trend toward external collaboration and collaboration within government has also been reflected in the increased number of IBM Center reports focusing on “collaborating across boundaries.” In 2013, the IBM Center published seven reports on collaboration, including Implementing Cross-Agency Collaboration: A Guide for Federal Managers, by Jane Fountain; and Collaboration Between Government and Outreach Organizations: A Case Study of the Department of Veterans Affairs, by Lael Keiser and Susan Miller.

    Professor Borins concludes his report—which is a companion to his book, The Persistence of Innovation in Government, published concurrently by Brookings—by emphasizing the importance of partnerships among awards programs, academics, and practitioners as key to spurring future innovations. Moreover, the report calls for continued research on innovation in government. Professor Borins argues that it is crucial to understand trends in innovation more deeply and to identify jurisdictions or organizations that support and encourage multiple innovations over time. We strongly support this call for more research on innovation.

    Gigi Georges, Tim Glynn-Burke, and Andrea McGrath, June 2013. 

    This paper is the third in a miniseries that explores emerging strategies to strengthen the civic, institutional, and political building blocks that are critical to developing novel solutions to public problems — what the authors call the “innovation landscape.” The miniseries builds on past research addressing social innovation and on The Power of Social Innovation (2010) by HKS Professor Stephen Goldsmith.

    In this paper the authors focus on implementation of their framework’s strategies, primarily through the introduction of a unique assessment tool that includes key objectives and suggested indicators for each component of the framework. This final paper also includes a brief case study on New York City’s Center for Economic Opportunity, an award-winning government innovation team, to demonstrate and test the validity of the assessment tool and framework. The paper addresses some likely challenges to implementation and concludes with an invitation to readers to help further refine the framework and to launch a conversation among cities that will help improve their local landscapes for innovation.

    Duan, Peijun, and Tony Saich. 2013. “Reforming China's Monopolies”. Read Full Paper Abstract

    Peijun Duan and Tony Saich, August 2013

    This working paper focuses on an aspect of governance that is crucial to the next phase of China’s development: reducing state monopolies in order to enhance economic efficiency and promote more equitable growth. It is important to note that monopoly control in the Chinese political economy is not simply an economic phenomenon but also a phenomenon deeply embedded in a comprehensive system of power. Monopolies in the economic sphere (resources, prices, markets, and assets) are serious, but they are derived from the legacy of the centrally planned economy. They are also rooted in the traditional structure of Chinese society and its culture. In this paper, we will present a comprehensive examination of the phenomenon of monopoly control in the Chinese system.

    Nghia, Pham Duy, Nguyen Xuan Thanh, Huynh The Du, Do Thien Anh Tuan, Ben Wilkinson, Vu Thanh Tu Anh, Dwight Perkins, and David Da. 2013. “Unplugging Institutional Bottlenecks to Restore Growth: A Policy Discussion Paper Prepared for the 2013 Vietnam Executive Leadership Program (VELP)”. Read Full Paper Abstract

    Pham Duy Nghia, Nguyen Xuan Thanh, Huynh The Du, Do Thien Anh Tuan, Ben Wilkinson, Vu Thanh Tu Anh, Dwight Perkins, and David Dapice, August 2013

    This paper was prepared for the fourth annual Vietnam Executive Leadership Program (VELP), held at the Harvard Kennedy School from August 26 to 30, 2013. The paper aimed to provide participants, including Vietnamese government officials, scholars, and corporate executives, with a concise assessment of some of the key public policy challenges confronting Vietnam today. This paper is by no means comprehensive; it is not possible to offer an exhaustive analysis of every policy area in a brief study. In selecting which issues to address, the authors were guided by the priorities articulated by the Vietnamese government in policy statements promulgated over the past year. By design, the paper was delivered as a work in progress, which the authors encouraged the participants to challenge and strengthen through rigorous debate over the five days of VELP. It is hoped that the paper also will serve as a catalyst for informed discussion and debate among the larger policy community in Vietnam.

    David Dapice and Nguyen Xuan Thanh, July 2013

    Myanmar is a very poor country with some promising political developments but up to now limited economic reform. The historically low growth and high poverty rates have fed social tensions, most evident in the current Buddhist-Muslim violence. The continuing military pressure on ethnic states that do not effectively surrender to the Myanmar Army represents an old extractive almost feudal approach that forgoes real political negotiation in favor of occupation and exploitation of resource-rich areas. However, there are tentative signs of changes by the government. This paper proposes a set of policies to transform the current situation by combining greater tax revenues from mineral resources with better governance to create political unity and market-based economic progress.

    Tony Saich, August, 2013

    This working paper focuses on an aspect of governance that is crucial to the next phase of China’s development: reducing state monopolies in order to enhance economic efficiency and promote more equitable growth. It is important to note that monopoly control in the Chinese political economy is not simply an economic phenomenon but also a phenomenon deeply embedded in a comprehensive system of power. Monopolies in the economic sphere (resources, prices, markets, and assets) are serious, but they are derived from the legacy of the centrally planned economy. They are also rooted in the traditional structure of Chinese society and its culture. In this paper, we will present a comprehensive examination of the phenomenon of monopoly control in the Chinese system.

    Gigi Georges, Tim Glynn-Burke, and Andrea McGrath, June 2013 

    This paper is the first in a miniseries that explores emerging strategies to strengthen the civic, institutional, and political building blocks that are critical to developing novel solutions to public problems — what the authors call the “innovation landscape.” The miniseries builds on past research addressing social innovation and on The Power of Social Innovation (2010) by HKS Professor Stephen Goldsmith.

    In this first paper, the authors introduce readers to the nature of the work by highlighting current efforts to drive innovation in Boston, Denver, and New York City. They also orient the miniseries within the robust discourse on government innovation.

    Gigi Georges, Tim Glynn-Burke, and Andrea McGrath, June 2013 

    This paper is the second in a miniseries that explores emerging strategies to strengthen the civic, institutional, and political building blocks that are critical to developing novel solutions to public problems — what the authors call the “innovation landscape.” The miniseries builds on past research addressing social innovation and on The Power of Social Innovation (2010) by HKS Professor Stephen Goldsmith.

    In this second paper, the authors introduce a framework for driving local innovation, which includes a set of strategies and practices developed from the Ash Center’s recent work on social innovation, new first-person accounts, in-depth interviews, practitioner surveys, and relevant literature. The authors explore the roots and composition of the core strategies within their framework and provide evidence of its relevance and utility.

    Dapice, David, and Thomas Vallely. 2013. “Against the Odds: Building a Coalition”. Read the full report Abstract

    Using a New Federalism for Unity and Progress in Myanmar
    David Dapice and Thomas Vallely, March 2013

    When in 2010, the President of the Union of Myanmar, the Speaker of the Lower House and several ministers decided to push for a rapid political opening, they engineered what could be called a critical juncture. This critical juncture now provides the country with an opportunity to move forward, not only with faster economic growth, but also with better quality growth and political change that will unify the nation and create broad progress. In exploring a possible approach toward unity and progress, this paper uses the framework developed in Why Nations Fail, a recent book on economic and political development and also refers to the idea of “illiberal democracy“ articulated by Fareed Zakaria. The basic idea is that a broad coalition of the incumbent party, the democratic opposition, ethnic groups and the military is needed to fundamentally change Myanmar’s past failed orientation. This broad coalition should work for a new federalism in which states (at a minimum) have fairly elected governors and meaningful revenue sources so they can run many of their own affairs. Recognizing that central to real progress is a transition from a repressive, extractive and exclusive political system with crony businesses to a broadly inclusive political system that spreads economic opportunity, the paper argues that broad political and economic change need to go hand in hand.

    Open Budgets: The Political Economy of Transparency, Participation, and Accountability
    Khagram, Sanjeev, Archon Fung, and Paolo de Renzio. 2013. Open Budgets: The Political Economy of Transparency, Participation, and Accountability. Brookings Institution Press/Ash Center,. Visit Publisher's Site Abstract

    Sanjeev Khagram, Archon Fung, and Paolo Renzio, Brookings Institution Press, 2013  

    Decisions about “who gets what, when, and how” are perhaps the most important that any government must make. So it should not be remarkable that around the world, public officials responsible for public budgeting are facing demands – from their own citizenry, other government officials, economic actors, and increasingly from international sources – to make their patterns of spending more transparent and their processes more participatory. Surprisingly, rigorous analysis of the causes and consequences of fiscal transparency is thin at best. Open Budgets seeks to fill this gap in existing knowledge.

    David Dapice, April 2013

    Exports of rice to China have exploded and are now over half of total exports. Because of high support prices for paddy and thus for rice in China, it is profitable to send rice and even paddy to China from Myanmar, where the imported rice can sometimes get higher local prices. This could draw rice away from “normal“ exports out of Yangon and even raise the price of paddy (and thus rice) in Myanmar to a level above the world price, causing imports to Myanmar. Imports to Myanmar would keep the price of rice lower than if the China price set Myanmar’s price. The major point for Myanmar is to use this as an opportunity for farmers to get higher prices and to produce more, but this will take different credit and input policies. This is a limited opportunity, for China may prefer to import rice officially by sea rather than informally through Yunnan. Indeed, border checks intensified in March 2013, reducing flows.

    As the second case in the two-part Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill case study, Case B builds upon Case A’s overview of the disaster and early response of the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in late April 2010, by focusing on the challenges the National Incident Command encountered as it sought to engage with state and local actors – an effort that would grow increasingly complicated as the crisis deepened throughout the spring and summer of 2010.
    Recognizing Public Value
    Moore, Mark H. 2013. Recognizing Public Value. Harvard University Press. Visit Publisher's Site Abstract

    Mark H. Moore, Harvard University Press, 2013

    Mark H. Moore's now classic Creating Public Value offered advice to public managers about how to create public value. But that book left a key question unresolved: how could one recognize (in an accounting sense) when public value had been created? Here, Moore closes the gap by setting forth a philosophy of performance measurement that will help public managers name, observe, and sometimes count the value they produce, whether in education, public health, safety, crime prevention, housing, or other areas. Blending case studies with theory, he argues that private sector models built on customer satisfaction and the bottom line cannot be transferred to government agencies.

    The Sum Is Greater Than the Parts: Doubling Shared Prosperity in Indonesia Through Local and Global Integration
    Program, Harvard Kennedy School Indonesia. 2013. The Sum Is Greater Than the Parts: Doubling Shared Prosperity in Indonesia Through Local and Global Integration. The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. Download the full book Abstract

    Harvard Kennedy School Indonesia Program, 2013 

    Published in 2013, a new book from the Harvard Kennedy School Indonesia Program builds on findings of the 2010 report, From Reformasi to Institutional Transformation: A Strategic Assessment of Indonesia's Prospects for Growth, Equity, and Democratic GovernanceView the virtual book tour from the HKS Library.

    Following the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in late April 2010, the Obama administration organized a massive response operation to contain the enormous amount of oil spreading across the Gulf of Mexico. Attracting intense public attention and, eventually, widespread criticism, the response adhered to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, a federal law that the crisis would soon reveal was not well understood – or even accepted – by all relevant parties. This two-part case profiles the efforts of senior officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as they struggled to coordinate the actions of a myriad of actors, ranging from numerous federal partners (including key members of the Obama White House); the political leadership of the affected Gulf States and sub-state jurisdictions; and the private sector. Case A provides an overview of the disaster and early response; discusses the formation of the National Incident Command (NIC), which had responsibility for directing response activities; and explores the NIC’s efforts to coordinate the actions of various federal entities.

    Sandford Borins and Richard Walker, December 2012 

    The adoption of new services and practices is widespread in public organizations as they respond to demands in the external environment and internal aspirations. In order to recognize these activities and disseminate good practices, awards programs have proliferated around the globe. Given the limited empirical analysis of the characteristics of innovation award winners, this article examines the 2010 Innovations in American Government Awards (IAGA) program.

    Kenneth Winston, December 2012

    The curricula of schools of public policy and management cover three broad areas: policy analysis, strategic management, and politics. The mission is not only to educate professionals in these areas but to enable them to integrate the three in depth. What kind of professional can do this, and are there generic skills and capacities that this person must possess? This essay explores a core dimension of professional skill that Winston refers to as moral competence – the set of attributes and dispositions that make for good governance. On the assumption that the needed skills and the nature of the polity are inextricably linked, the central question is: What constitutes moral competence for a practitioner of democratic governance? Winston sketches six generic attributes that he regards as constituent components of the good practitioner, and indicates how the case method of teaching helps to cultivate these virtues.

    David Dapice, December 2012 

    The Asian Development Bank (ADB) recently released an excellent report on Myanmar’s energy sector. In it they presented estimates of future demand growth by the Ministry of Electric Power for electricity. They show demand doubling from 12,459 million kWh in 2012-13 to 25,683 million kWh in 2018-19, a compound rate of growth of 13% a year. However, the actual production in 2012 appears to be only 10,000 million kWh, and it is unlikely that moving to 2012-13 will raise the total much beyond 10,500 million kWh. Of this output, about 1700 million kWh will be exported. (Electricity exports exceeded 1700 million kWh in both 2010 and 2011.) So, the likely electricity output in 2012-13 available for domestic use will be 3659 kWh below this year's demand estimate. Production for domestic use would have to jump by 42% to equal the expected demand. This is a massive shortfall and demand grows by over 1500 million kWh in 2013-14. So for 2013-14, supply net of exports would have to grow by nearly 5200 million kWh to account for the existing shortfall and projected growth, or by nearly 60% over 2012-13.

    When Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Judy Monroe learned of the emergence of H1N1 (commonly referred to as “Swine Flu”) in late April 2009, she had to quickly figure out how to coordinate an effective response within her state’s highly balkanized public health system, in which more than 90 local health departments wielded considerable autonomy. Over the next several months, she would come to rely heavily on relationships she had worked hard to establish with local health officials upon becoming commissioner – but she and her senior advisors would also have to scramble to find new ways to communicate and coordinate with their local partners, who represented jurisdictions that varied considerably in terms of size, population demographics, resources, and public health capacity.

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