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Collaborative governance and innovation in public services settings

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  • 1 Tilburg University, , The Netherlands
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Collaborative governance is believed to lead to more innovative solutions to complex problems in public services. This article analyses whether this hypothesis applies in the case of decentralisation of labour market policy to regional networks of various actors in the Netherlands. We first develop a theoretical argument that integrates theories of collaborative governance with theories of innovation, distinguishing between a wide and a small option for innovation in relation to the structure, process and output/outcome of collaborative governance. Our findings show that, despite a variety of partnerships and ambitions across the regions, new and bold solutions to complex problems are scarce. In particular, wide innovation, which creates public value beyond the existing policy frameworks and services, is limited in practice. The article advances the theory by specifying barriers and conditions for network innovation in the public sector, and provides some suggestions for further research.

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