Population analysis of organizational innovation and learning

Hartley, Jean (2022). Population analysis of organizational innovation and learning. Public Administration, 100(4) pp. 942–959.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/padm.12771


This article argues for a population level of analysis, addressing a theoretical and empirical gap and enabling the analysis of transition, tempo and timing at the macro level. The article examines four theories of population-level innovation: population ecology; neo-institutional theory; innovation diffusion; and population-level learning theory. A population-level empirical study of innovation and organizational learning addresses three research questions: the first and second examine patterns of innovation underpinned by learning over space and over time. The third concerns the processes and dynamics of those patterns. The data derive from local government, using mixed methods and multiple respondents over nine years. The research shows the uneven spread of learning across the population, with two sub-populations emerging. Over time, innovation and learning strategies shifted. Learning in the population occurred through both direct interaction and vicarious learning from others in the population. Implications for population-level theory, innovation and learning are explored.

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