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Title: Buying innovation in complex public service settings : the example of service improvement in education
Author: Thomas, Susana
ISNI:       0000 0004 5357 8260
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2015
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This research investigates how public service organisations (PSO’s) use public procurement, referred to as the acquisition of goods and services by PSOs, to analyse the processes through which a PSO acquires innovative goods and services in order to improve public services. Despite a number of success stories from the literature (Phillips et al, 2007; Uyarra, 2010; Yeow et al, 2011), PSOs struggle to procure and implement innovation (e.g. Uyarra et al, 2014a). One major reason for this lack of innovation procurement and adoption is the nature of governance of the procurement process in the public sector (Rolfstam, 2009).Drawing from the public sector and organisational governance literature, this research develops a conceptual framework to investigate how internal, managerial and external governance affects the willingness and ability of PSOs to procure innovative goods and services. External governance refers to overarching bodies of organisations and institutions situated outside the PSO which influences policy and organisational arrangements of PSOs. Managerial governance refers to organisational actors and other stakeholders brought together to form governing boards which directly control and support the PSO leader. Internal governance refers to the day-to-day operations and delivery of a public service. This research adopts a positivist approach with a deductive inquiry process. Using the English secondary education system as the PSO under investigation this research utilises a mixture of quantitative (survey to two types of secondary schools in England) and qualitative methods (four case studies). The findings of this research indicate that these three governance levels influence PSOs procuring innovation in a number of ways. External governance can determine the decision-making process and what can and cannot be procured to improve the service and how budgets are used for innovations. External governance can also act as a source of expertise and knowledge, create opportunities and incentivise PSOs by establishing conditions, mechanisms and access to large scale programmes and initiatives. Similarly, managerial governance entails actors to act as gatekeepers in the decision making process, assisting in procurements by leveraging expertise from other positions and improving the chances of procuring innovation through partnership arrangements with internal governance actors. At the internal governance level, procurement of innovation is greatly improved when ‘champions’ support innovative solutions and when staff responsible for the delivery of the service (i.e. teachers) specify requirements. This research makes three contributions. Firstly, it develops a conceptual framework for public procurement of innovation (PPI) with governance at the centre. Secondly, it adds to the growing body of literature of PPI practice and the barriers faced by PSOs. Finally, this research pays attention to education, a public service sector that has been overlooked by previous studies. Consequently, this research may help policy-makers and practitioners to better understand the governance of PPI.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Public procurement of innovation ; Education ; Public service organisations (PSO) ; Governance