Meld. St. 30 (2019–2020)

An innovative public sector — Culture, leadership and competence

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1 Summary

The Government’s goal is an efficient public sector that provides good services for its citizens, enjoys a high level of trust in the population and finds new solutions to societal challenges in cooperation with citizens, business and industry, research environments and civil society.

To achieve this goal, the Government has developed three principles to foster public sector innovation:

  • Politicians and public authorities need to grant freedom of action and provide incentives for innovation.

  • Leaders must develop a culture of and competence in innovation, where people have the courage to think differently and learn from mistakes and successes.

  • Public agencies must seek new forms of collaboration.

This white paper presents trends, status, needs for change and the Government’s policy for further work on public sector innovation.

Chapters 2 and 3 present the Government’s goals and measures for public sector innovation, as well as definitions and the current situation.

Chapter 4 describes the framework conditions for day-to-day work in the public sector, such as governance, financial structures, laws and regulations, forms of organisation and requirements for official studies. The framework conditions can enable public sector innovation, encourage and facilitate innovation, or they can limit the possibilities.

Chapter 5 describes the policy instruments for public sector innovation. A number of actors manage policy instruments intended to support public sector innovation through funding and guidance.

Chapter 6 discusses the possibilities offered by digitalisation and new technology to address public sector tasks in new and better ways. Good digital infrastructure, artificial intelligence, 5G and the huge increase in the amount of data offer the public sector new opportunities to provide better and more comprehensive digital services to the population.

Chapter 7 describes the importance of an innovation-friendly culture as a key precondition for innovation. In this report, culture is understood as the overall behaviour in a workplace, and is thus a combination of, among other things, skills, attitudes and values. Politicians, leaders and employees play important roles in promoting innovation, and this chapter presents the characteristics of an innovation culture. They can form the basis for public agencies’ assessment and further development of this culture.

Chapter 8 describes the relationship between competence and innovation. Competence is a combination of knowledge, understanding, skills, qualities, attitudes and values. For successful innovation, it is therefore an advantage to have technical knowledge and skills and to be familiar with work methods that can foster innovation.

Chapter 9 demonstrates how trial projects and experimentation in the public sector can contribute to innovation. Testing new solutions in a limited area can reduce risk and costs and provide insight into the effects of measures that can potentially be introduced in other areas.

Chapter 10 describes the importance of collaborating with other actors if the public sector is to be able to think in new ways, grasp opportunities and find new solutions to minor and major challenges. The research sector, business and industry, the voluntary sector, and not least citizens, can help the public sector to develop and co-create better solutions.

Chapter 11 highlights how business and industry can help the public sector to achieve its objectives. The business sector is a key partner for the public sector in connection with procurements, partnerships and other forms of collaboration. To exploit the full potential of the business sector, the public sector can collaborate with established enterprises and draw on the innovative drive of start-ups and social entrepreneurs.

Chapter 12 focuses on how research can contribute to more innovation. Research institutions contribute by generating new knowledge about what works, by monitoring and documenting innovation processes, and by driving innovation by helping to develop new, smart solutions.

Chapter 13 describes the importance of diffusing good solutions and realising the benefits of innovation. Innovation generates value for society and its inhabitants, and more people should be able to utilise innovations that have proven valuable.

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