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Innovation in public sector human services programs: the implications of innovation by "groping along"

Innovation in public sector human services programs: the implications of innovation by "groping along"

Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 9(2): 219-248

This paper examines innovation in seventeen human services programs cited by the 1986 Ford Foundation Awards Program for Innovations in State and Local Government. The sample is particularly useful for distinguishing between two models for successful innovation: a policy planning model and Behn's model of "groping along." The cases suggest that the "groping along" model best fits the way that innovation came about in these programs. Innovative ideas typically developed through practice; programs began operating very quickly; and programs, once operating, were repeatedly modified in response to operational experience. Translating the groping-along model into specific prescriptions for managers requires us to reconsider the role of analysis. The case examples suggest that analysis may be most valuable in helping managers learn from experience.

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Accession: 046418355

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PMID: 10104415

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