Does innovation lead to improvement in public services? Lessons from the Beacon Scheme in the UK

Hartley, Jean (2008). Does innovation lead to improvement in public services? Lessons from the Beacon Scheme in the UK. In: Borins, Sandford F. ed. Innovations in Government: Research, Recognition, and Replication. Brookings/ASH Institute Series, "Innovative Governance in the 21st Century. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, pp. 159–187.



Jean Hartley examines the Beacon Scheme, which is an English central-government program to recognize, reward, and disseminate excellence and innovation in local government and other local public services by sharing knowledge about good or promising practices by local authorities and their partners. Hartley's chapter is based on extensive research on the Beacon Scheme conducted at the University of Warwick. The research project examines award applications, learning from the innovations and the nature and extent of improvement. The research has looked at all 388 local governments in England to determine which apply for the scheme and why, thus providing an example of innovation research that looks at an entire population, rather than just the innovative organizations within that population. Hartley outlines a model of knowledge transfer that has similarities to Behn's discussion and then applies it to knowledge transfer in the program. A key result is that local governments found "open days" held by Beacon award winners to be the most effective means of dissemination and the most likely to lead to the transfer of tacit knowledge. The chapter concludes with a report on what local governments learned at Beacon Scheme events, changes they implemented as a result, and their assessments of the success of such changes, thereby providing evidence not only on the diffusion of innovation but also on the extent to which the innovations affected performance.

Viewing alternatives

No digital document available to download for this item

Item Actions