IT incubator public administration

The “IT incubator public administration” project deals with organisational approaches to creating and promoting start-up structures for innovative IT solutions by public administration.

To boost its innovativeness, public administration is increasingly creating flexible structures. These are entrusted with the development of innovative services and modernisation tasks. Consequently, they put into practice the findings of economic and social science research on organisation and innovation. According to these findings, emulating start-up structures can generate a particularly innovative climate due to their agility, dynamism and flat hierarchies. This even applies within an established organisation or a structure in which the knowledge and experience of external IT consultants and the authorities themselves is combined.. The underlying objective of the open innovation approach is similar. To date, the public sector in Germany has been hesitant to adopt corresponding approaches.

Countries such as the United Kingdom, the USA, Australia and Italy play a pioneering role. For example, in order to make full use of the potential of advancing digitalisation in order to fulfil  public tasks and optimise administrative services with the resources of digitalisation, the Obama administration established an innovation-oriented fellowship programme (presidential innovation fellows) and set up two organisational units that created structures inside the administration under start-up conditions in order to expedite digital transformation projects in this manner.

After looking beyond national boundaries, the project focuses its attention on German public administration and examines comparable networks and structures in the Federal Republic. These include, for example, the NExT network of the federal authorities, as well as projects on digital controllers in cities such as Mannheim, Heidelberg, Bremen and Konstanz. These organisational units assume comparable functions to the digital service teams abroad and represent an important function for the German administration.

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Prof. Dr. Ines Mergel