Designing Public Policy for Innovation: Opportunities and Challenges in Policy Science

Dr. Giorgia Nesti

Innovation in local policies has become a very popular trend in recent years. The creation of living labs and smart cities, and the adoption of innovation programs in several municipalities across the world testify the general interest of politicians and public officials in finding new ways to cope with old and new problems such as climate change, pollution, poverty, illiteracy, and economic decline. Local policy makers, in fact, consider innovation a viable strategy to respond to increasing complex problems and pressing citizens’ needs. Interestingly, public innovation usually takes place through the adoption of new policy tools that are supposed to transform existing structures and/or to change traditional policy approaches through creativity, co-operation and collaboration between actors, and the adoption of new technologies. But are these tools really disruptive?
The paper is aimed at analyzing whether and how innovation is fostering a change in the way policies are designed and implemented at the local level. Drawing on academic literature and grey literature on local innovation, and the analysis of case studies, the paper will explore how the toolbox for innovation is composed and main implications for the study of the policy process.