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Open Access Designing environments for experimentation, learning and innovation in public policy and governance

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This article is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY-NC licence.

There has been much debate about the contribution of ‘design thinking’ to the fields of public policy and governance. This article makes an empirical contribution to this debate by examining the Organised Crime Field Lab ‐ an environment for experimenting with, learning about and innovating in collaborative governance. The study involved working with 18 different multi-agency collaborations involving over 160 professionals as they developed novel approaches to fighting organised crime. Combining quasi-experimental and action research methods, our analysis offers valuable insights into how an environment can be designed that creates the conditions to support collaborations in overcoming the most common challenges in their design process. In particular, we find that a specially designed environment including a structured but flexible problem-solving space, an inclusive facilitative process and a custom-made accountability structure can support collaborative design processes.

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Keywords: action research; collaborative governance; design science; multi-agency collaboration; policy innovation; policy labs; public innovation; public policy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Tilburg University, Netherlands 2: Harvard Kennedy School, USA

Publication date: January 2020

This article was made available online on September 4, 2019 as a Fast Track article with title: "Designing environments for experimentation, learning and innovation in public policy and governance".

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