Governance Innovations

The conditions of governance have changed, and a cacophony of approaches has emerged in response to the pressure put on existing governance systems. Many new ideas and practices are being put forth by different actors and at various levels.

How are we to make sense of them? How can we assess their potential for contributing to improvement, especially in terms of policy outcomes? Our Research Team offers conceptual guidance for understanding governance innovation, and, based on a broad scan and systematic vetting, presents a series of cases that seem to harbour potential.

Governance innovations are novel rules, regulations, and approaches that address a public problem in more efficacious and effective ways, lead to better policy outcomes, and enhance legitimacy.

Characteristics of Governance Innovations

1.) Presuppose a certain evolutionary process, whereby new ideas are elaborated, adopted and changed, improved and implemented and eventually popularised

2.) Do not occur in isolation

3.) Provide a public rather than a private good

4.) Require collective action among actors and across policy fields and in response to signals that may be weaker and less incentive-bound than in market situations

5.) Exhibit uptake by several stakeholders when the idea first arises, and throughout the process of implementation, adaptation and diffusion

Types of Governance Innovation

First Principle: a formula with the dual ability to capture the underlying problem and propose a solution, most often occurring from a punctuated equilibrium

Recombination: the introduction of borrowed elements into an existing governance system

Refunctionality: the relocation and expansion of a proven principle, product, or service into new contexts, policy fields, or jurisdictions

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Regina List

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Regine Kreitz

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