Innovation in the Western Australian state public sector
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This research sought to gain a deeper understanding of innovation in the Western Australian State Public Sector. It achieves this by exploring the perceptions of Leaders, Experts and lnfluencers regarding innovation, enablers and barriers to innovation, and examples of innovation in the sector. In this study, 'Leaders' were employees in the State Public Sector selected from the top two tiers of the Senior Executive Service position. 'Experts and lnfluencers' were individuals who were recognised as having specialized knowledge, skills and / or success regarding innovation and / or recognised as having the power to affect or influence innovation in the Western Australian Public Sector. In addition, the research also aimed to determine ways in which innovation can be enhanced in the sector. The context of this study is the Western Australia State Public Sector (WASPS) which includes departments, trade concerns, instrumentalities, agencies and state bodies run by the WA State Government. This study is significant because there is little exploration and description of the perception of innovation in the Public Sector of Australia and a lack of common understanding of innovation in the WASPS. This study enables a much greater understanding of the depth, extent and success of innovation in this sector. Innovation is vital for a public sector needing to respond to Western Australia's growth and prosperity. The description of innovation and strategies for enhancing innovation will assist in the further development of a responsive sector.This study adopts a qualitative methodology to explore the meaning given by Leaders, Experts and lnfluencers and their perceptions of innovation in the public sector. The qualitative paradigm provides rich meaning to the research questions for the study which are: I . What are the perceptions of innovation in the Western Australian State Public Sector amongst Leaders? 2. What are the perceptions of innovation in the Western Australian State Public Sector amongst Experts and lnfluencers? 3. What are the barriers and enablers to innovation in the Western Australian State Public Sector 4. How can innovation in the Western Australian State Public Sector be enhanced? A phenomenological approach is adopted for the study which allows the structure and essence of the phenomena of innovation within the public sector to be explored. Data was collected using semi structured, in-depth interviews and data analysis using a phenomenological approach was conducted. This ensured that the experience and meaning of the phenomena of innovation is described and explained as faithfully as possible. The key findings of the study indicate that while there are pockets of innovation within the WASPS there is an overall need to enhance the capacity for innovation.An 'emergent model' is proposed as a framework that can provide an enhanced capacity for innovation in the WASPS. This is achieved by addressing the cultural, structural and human resource barriers that exist and by simultaneously enhancing the enablers that were identified in this study. The 'emergent model' takes a strategic view with special consideration for the context for innovation within the WASPS. Inherent in this model is the need for a clear and shared definition of innovation; the creation of ideal conditions for innovation; and the development of an innovation action plan. Superimposed on this model is the need for greater capacity for, and commitment to, meaningful public consultation. In addition the study highlighted a need for strong and effective leadership throughout the Western Australia State Public Sector to enhance innovation. In making these conclusions it is recognised that this study is specific to the state public sector of Western Australia. This study opens the possibility of more extensive research within the public sector, specific to innovation. In particular, there is significant scope to explore the relationship between political and public sector leadership and the effect of this relationship on innovation. In addition, further exploration of successful innovation in the sector could better inform the type of agency in which innovation is successful and an analysis of the leadership factors that influence successful innovation. Further research regarding the ability of leaders to create an environment to enhance innovation within the sector, recruitment practices of the WASPS, and of resource allocation and its effect on innovation capacity is advocated in this study.
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