The precarious politics of public innovation

Hendrik Wagenaar, Matthew Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


This article argues that debates about public innovation among governance scholars risk essentialising the concept. Rather than recognise the inherently normative content of public innovation, some scholars have created taxonomies that conflate very different forms of ‘innovation’ in the public and private sectors, the latter of which is deeply contradictory to public values. We re-think public innovation as both a pragmatic process, a way of responding to developments in contemporary governance, and an inherently public and democratic practice. Our analysis addresses three points: who innovates; what is the object of innovation, and what are the effects of innovation? From this analysis we specify public innovation as both inescapable and democratically necessary to safeguard and promote the important values of public life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-160
Number of pages11
JournalPolitics and Governance
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


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