Innovations in Government: Characteristics of Innovative Programs Then and Now


Thursday, September 22, 2011, 4:10pm to 5:30pm


124 Mount Auburn Street, Suite 200-North, Cambridge, MA

Sanford Borins, University of Toronto

About the Seminar
Public officials and citizens are always calling for more innovation in government. But what factors make a program innovative? Statistical research on a random sample (234 observations) of the 550 applicants to the 2010 Innovations in American Government Awards reveals some interesting findings. At this seminar, Borins will first explore what determines which applicants advance in the competition. Are some types of innovations stronger than others (e.g. inter-organizational partnerships)? Does effective storytelling in the application help? Which of the four criteria used by evaluators (novelty, effectiveness, significance, transfer or transferability) matter most? This presentation will also compare the frequency of characteristics of current applicants (e.g., partnerships, use of information technology, empowerment) with research on applicants in the 1990s to highlight how innovations in government have changed over time.

About Sandford Borins
Sandford Borins is a professor of strategic management at the University of Toronto. He is the author of numerous articles as well as eight books, including Innovating with Integrity: How Local Heroes are Transforming American Government (Georgetown University Press, 1998), a comprehensive study of government innovation that used as its data base a large sample of applications to the Innovations in American Government Awards program. Most recently he served as the editor of Innovations in Government: Research, Recognition, and Replication (Brookings, 2008), a collection of articles – many by Harvard Kennedy School faculty – on innovation research.