The Policy Lab ran a series of workshops in Australia in 2017 on ‘Public Policy Innovation’. Here we share some of our learnings from the workshops.
University policy research could become more responsive to the needs of policymakers, through shorter timeframes, involving end users in research design, and sharing “first-cut” insights rather than waiting until we have polished and published final results. We shared these ideas on the LSE Impact blog, based on our experience running workshops on policy innovation with policymakers in Australia.
Building capacity for innovative policymaking is a challenge across the system of government in Australia. The workshops explored what shapes innovation capacity in government and invited participants to contribute to an emerging research agenda on policy innovation.
The policymakers in our workshops across all levels of government suggested three key areas where they would like to learn more from researchers.
The first is leadership and influence — especially in risk-averse public sector environments. Policy officers and managers told us they wanted to learn more about: ‘leading from the “bottom up”; ‘how to innovate when leadership is transactional’; and ‘strategies for influencing leaders who don’t innovate’.
Collaboration across government was the second area that policy-makers from all levels of government identified as an opportunity for further research and learning, specifically on:
· Inter-agency or inter-departmental relationships (in federal government)
· Networking strategies, tools and skills (for state government workers)
· Opportunities for cross local government innovation.
Finally, we were often asked for more case studies and stories of policy innovation, especially in the specific context of the Australian public sector. As much as there is a need for greater measurement and evaluation of innovation, policy workers are calling for more examples, to ‘help make the case for innovation’.
We share these specific examples of the needs and interests of policy workers in the hope that fellow researchers consider them in the design of their research questions, methods and outputs.
If you are interested in suggesting ways to make policy research more user-centred, or in partnering on a particular research topic, please let us know via the comments below or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.