Reforming Government by Crowd Innovation

In their essay “Managing Crowd Innovation in Public Administration,” Alexandra Collm and Kuno Schedler examine how governmental adoption of social media can be used to reform public administration. Though public servants have attempted to reform many times, improvements often take place only at a rhetorical level. Collm and Schedler contend opening the reform process with help from crowd innovation will help identify and resolve issues of public management directly and indirectly. Their essay provides an overview of how to move beyond previous patterns and maximize innovative potential. It defines how crowd innovation works, the necessity for innovation in government, and how public managers need to address deficits and plan for the future.

In order to cultivate the best practices for increasing openness and transparency, and in doing so increase legitimacy, Collm and Schedler conclude that greater attention to internal environmental factors, external participant engagement and management, consistency and implementing a guiding legal framework.

 The process of crowd innovation requires a legitimatory element that is in conformity with the system. What is necessary is a reduction in the complexity of the crowd and its activities: the systemic opening-up of innovation must also be balanced by a closure since otherwise the further progress of the innovation process would be in jeopardy.”

 A reduction of complexity and a built-in system of reflexivity is also necessary according to this perspective. There must also be a utilization of different channels and Web 2.0 technologies to inform and engage with the crowd.

 “The implementation of crowd innovation is a break with previous processes and practices; for the establishment of its acceptance, however, it must still be compatible with superordinate structures and values. For this reason, public managers have to strike a balance. The implementation of an open innovation process must therefore go hand in hand with a reduction in complexity in order to guarantee the legitimacy of the process. Reflexivity is necessary when dealing with ambiguity so as not to perceive the open innovation process as a danger. Trust in the crowd is preceded by an altered view of the crowd as a problem solver rather than a problem.”

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