Innovative Russian Civil Servants (Part 4 / 4)

This is the fourth and final part (4/4) of my Open Talk on innovative behavior and Russian Civil servants at Higher School of Economics (HSE) Day 2016 in Moscow’s Gorky Park.

Hypothesis Testing

I use this data and statistical techniques to study how motivation, job satisfaction, age, working experience relate to innovative and error-correcting behavior (outcome variable).

PSM positively correlated with innovation motivation

Results show that public service motivation is positively correlated with innovation motivation. I will gloom over technical details; estimation results suggest that an employee with a high, but not the highest level of public service motivation, exhibits innovative behavior.

For simplicity let us focus on very strong innovative behavior. Let’s take an average respondent, 42 years old female, 7 years of working experience. The only feature we vary is the level of PSM, from very low to very high. Results show that it is unlikely that an average civil servant with very low PSM is very innovative, the chance is 41 %. But with a high PSM the chance of innovative behavior is much bigger, around 70 percent. The figure also shows that too much PSM is not good for innovation. An average respondent with a very high PSM has a lower chance, some 60 % of heavy innovation.

Power motivation fails to achieve significance

In contrast, the self-reported level of Power motivation fails to achieve significance throughout models. My initial expectation was that power motivated civil servants put less emphasize on innovation. But this assumption does not stand the test of reality.

Job satisfaction positive impact

The results also show that job satisfaction has a positive impact on intense innovation motivation.

Encouragement to innovate

Also encouragement to innovate by management (five-choice-outcome) has a positive impact on intense innovative behavior.

Take Aways

Happy civil servants

What can governments and agency heads do to promote innovation in Public Administration? Provide a sound working environment; happy civil servants are more keen to fix errors. Satisfied civil servants are creative civil servants

Training and ethical leadership

Innovative activities also require ethical civil servants with a notable level of public service motivation. Agency heads and governments should emphasize such in-house training; university has to promote also ethical values.

Encouragement & Signaling

And we learn that encouragement seems to enhance innovative behavior. Signaling: Employees receive signals that change is appreciated.


Behavioral Public Administration

Public Administration plays an essential role in everyday life of Muscovites, and community members around the globe.

In my talk I first laid out that running a government agency successfully requires hierarchy, coordination of activities, and standard operating procedures.

The core essence was to demonstrate that beliefs and attitudes of civil servants do play a role for their administrative actions. This makes a strong point for a new strand of research, called Behavioral Public Administration.

Gorky Park

Getting back to Gorky Park (pictured above) I do not ask for another innovation, but a small evolutionary change: sell the ice cream at a lower price.

Thank you


Innovative Russian Civil Servants (Part 3 / 4)

This is the 3rd part (3/4) of my Open Talk on Innovation and Public Service Motivation that I delivered at HSE Day 2016, at 8th of September in Moscow’s Gorky Park (pictured above)

Leningrad region

Moscow is not Russia, people usually acknowledge. What is the broader picture, beyond the capital?

In spring this year I was able to survey almost 4,000 local civil servants in Leningrad region. I administered an online questionnaire; participation was voluntary and fully anonymous. I asked respondents a series of questions about personal beliefs and attitudes, job satisfaction, and working experience. My intention was to learn about the level of innovative behavior and how it relates to three types of motivation.

Three types of motivation

The first motivation is called Public Service Motivation. People with a high level of PSM are willing to serve community members even at their own expense. The concept is very famous in Public Administration; it was developed in the 1990ies (Perry 1996, Lin & Perry 2015).

Other people give more weight to job security, and a stable income and working routine. I call this Security Motivation, or loss aversion, because it’s important to them not to lose social status, or entitlements.

And yet individuals seek to exercise power over others. Working in civil service to them is a mean to exercise power and to gain social status. I call this power motivation.

Elbow room vs. SOPs

So my argument is that personal attitudes make a difference in how civil servants perform their job. But I mentioned that public bureaucracy heavily relies on rules and standards. SOPs exactly tell the public official what to do in a particular situation, limiting the autonomy of public officials for the sake of uniform services. How can personal attitudes matters in such an environment?

Yes, they can: Administrative professional are always given a certain level of flexibility in implementing policy programs. And within this elbow room / leeway of operators the attitudes, beliefs and motivations of civil servants make a difference in how they do their job.


I received responses from some 1,600 civil servants. The average respondent was a 42 year old female mid-level public officer with 7 to 15 years of working experience.

Russian local Civil servants self-report a very high motivation to correct errors and innovate. The mean value of the variable over all participants was 4.1 (on a 1 to 5 scale), above the scale midpoint.

Russian civil servants also self-report a high level of PSM. The answers of seven questions are put together to measure PSM. Again the highest possible value is 5; the mean value of all respondents in 4.3.

The level of power motivation and security motivation respectively is lower compared to PSM, but still remarkable. The variable measuring power motivation has a mean value of 3.7 which is much lower compared to the mean value of the variable measuring public service motivation. The variable measuring security motivation (loss aversion) has a mean value of 3.8, above the scale midpoint and similar to Power motivation mean value.

Job satisfaction / Empowerment

Civil servants report a high level of job satisfaction. And most of them also report that their agency offers them opportunities to develop professional skills.


Innovative Russian Civil Servants (Part 2 / 4)

This is the 2nd part (2/4) of my Open Talk on Innovation and Public Service Motivation that I delivered at HSE Day 2016, at 8th of September in Moscow’s Gorky Park.


The job of any public administration is to do something: The job of Мосгорпарк is to run and maintain the parks and recreational areas in the City of Moscow, and to develop them. Moscow offers its residents more than a dozen big parks, covering more than 100 sq. km. Gorky Park is the most popular among them, at par with Sokolniki, according to 2012 ratings.

Mosgorpark was founded only in 2011; as a branch of the Ministry of Culture of Moscow’s City Government. Its ambitious mission statement is to “make Moscow convenient for all”; the annual budget for doing so is some 8bn rubles (equals some 110m euros) in 2015 and 2016 (down from 11bn in 2014).

Given its mission statement and budget, Mosgorpark employees few own permanent staff. The official staff number is 70 employees, including the agency director Marina Lyulchuck, and four executive directors. When the agency was created in 2011, most public administrators came to their position because of their excellence in other professional fields, such as architecture, landscaping, and event-management (Interview with agency head Marina Lyltchuk, http://moscowtorgi.ru/news/gorodskoe_hoziaistvo/1495/, retrieved 2016-09-07).

Error-correcting and innovative behavior

Routine jobs

Running and maintaining Gorky Park – this seems to include a lot of routine jobs, e.g. cleaning up the bins, planting flowers, fixing broken benches, and providing a safe environment for visitors.

Even baseline performance requires innovation

But every organization not only has to get day-to-day routine work right. Even achieving a baseline level of performance, touching the bottom line of expectations, from time to time requires some innovation.

It is not enough to clean up the bin in Gorky Park every morning. As an agency head or executive director you have to come up with “new ways of doing things” (Fernandez and Moldagiev 2013) from time to time.

Simon & March

This is something two of the founding fathers of modern Public Administration have emphasized more than 50 years ago. The first one was Herbert A. Simon, a Nobel laurate; the second was James G. March; in 1958 they co-authored a book called “Organizations”.

Create mindset

New ways of doing things – this is just another term for innovation. Visitors demand events, new attractions for kids. To keep up with these growing demands requires a creative mindset. And it requires employees with a high level of innovation motivation. This is what makes a top-performing organization.


Let put this idea more generally: Civil servants exhibit two types of behavior:

  • The first type of behavior is error-correcting behavior. To a varying degree public servants try to detect and fix small errors in everyday working routines.
  • The second type of behavior is innovative behavior. Public Administration heavily relies on rules, or standard operating procedures. SOPs help civil servants to take a decision in standard situation. But SOPs do not support public managers in non-standard situations. In non-standard situations civil servants to a varying degree try to come up with new ways of doing things.

An example of innovative mindset: (‘A lot of families with kids are visiting the park. But it is inconvenient for them to use adult toilets, and wash-bowls. Let’s install wash-bowls for kids.’)

The case of Gorky Park demonstrates that both error-correcting and innovative behavior has positive effects for community members.


Innovative Russian Civil Servants (Part 1 / 4)

On September 8, 2016 Higher School of Economics celebrated annual HSE Day in Moscow’s Gorky Park. I delivered an Open Talk on the relationship between Innovation and Public Service Motivation. Here is the first of four parts (1/4) of what I said:

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you very much for your interest in Public Administration, Innovation and Russian Civil Servants. Gorky Park is an excellent location to talk about Innovation and Civil servants.

The Three Parachute Tower

Just have a look to the marble-colored twisted tower (pictured above).

When I saw it for the first time two weeks ago, I initially thought it was a new look-out platform. I was really excited, took my camera and raced over there – just to learn that you cannot climb it up. Залезать на Башню – нельзя!

From a plate nearby I learned that actually this is a mock-up model of a funfair attraction from the 1930ies. 80 years ago bold ordinary Muscovites did parachute jumping from the platform at the top. There were three pre-installed parachute – so it assumed the name Three Parachute Tower. According to some sources this Soviet bungee jumping became one of the major attractions in Gorky Park.

I do not know what happened to the tower after the Great Patriotic War. But in 2015 a mock-up model was put in front of Gorky park main entrance as a New Year’s Three. And people liked this very special Ёлка.

This anecdote about three parachutes, a Ёлка and a mock-up model serves as an excellent example of innovative behavior in public administration. It is an example of how Gorky Park managers come up with new ideas of how to offer Muscovites a sound recreational area.

Basic Terms


The Three Parachute Tower serves as an example of innovative behavior in Public Administration.

An innovation is an idea, program, or policy that is new to the organization adopting it (Reference). Innovative behavior means to come up with new ways of doing things.

Public Administration & Bureaucracy

Gorky Park is run by a government agency, Mosgorpark.

Another term for government agencies is bureaucracy. By bureaucracy we usually understand the work of civil servants in Public Administration. Public Administration is also a science, a science that explains “what government agencies do, […] why they do it” (James Q. Wilson 1989), and how they do it.

Government agency

The job of any government agency is to do something: Public Administration and civil servants are providing public goods and services. We need such services like law enforcement, public transport, or parks, so we are in need bureaucratic organizations. We are need of coordinated activities of public officials because a single individual usually cannot provide a public service for a large community own its own, even if she is the most intelligent person with a strong will and power.

You can maintain your own Дача, but you will fail to run Gorky Park on your own.

There are a lot of things do in a community like Moscow. And so there are a lot of government agencies, in Moscow, in Russia, and in almost any country around the globe. E.g. police departments, schools, Mosgortrans (running public buses and trams), Mosmetro (running the subway system), and Мосгорпарк.


This is what I do as an Assistant Professor of Public Administration at HSE: I am analyzing what government agencies do, how they do it, and why. Today I would like to share with you some new results about Innovation and Russian Civil Servants.


Co-production and Innovation in Service Delivery

If there was a buzzword these days in Budapest – apart from ‘innovation’ – it was co-production. Co-production is everywhere – it is day one of the IRSPM conference on Public Service Innovation and the Delivery of Effective Services, which took part 15-16 October at the National University of Public Service (pictured, the afternoon before the conference actually started).


But innovation first: In the Introductory Plenary Session Stephen Osborne from the University of Edinburgh, and co-chair of the event started from a very broad definition that innovation is the creation of knowledge. An important feature in this knowledge-creation process is creativity, that is, divergent thinking and the ability to create multiple solutions to a similar problem.

Innovation is a buzzword, as is co-production. The moniker innovation is commonly used as a proxy for “change for the good”. Stephen’s – somewhat rhetoric, somewhat serious question – was ‘But is it really better to be innovative?’ He pointed out that previous research had shown that innovation involves risks – (and I add) which comes as no surprise since riskless choice is an outdated concept from the 1960ies – and about 3 out of 4 so-called innovations fail. So innovation, in the very broad terms of Stephen, is seemingly not a cost-efficient way to reform and change public service delivery.

Turning to the issue of co-production Stephen argued that a service perspective is needed to understand public service delivery and to design and change it properly. Because public service delivery is not just production of goods, and e.g. tax management, parks, and health care are not just manufactured goods innovation and co-production must not just be about reducing costs in times of austerity.

At this point I have to add Stephens’s definition of the term “Co-production”: co-production is “voluntary or involuntary involvement of a service user in any of the design, management, delivery and/or evaluation of public services in order to add value”. From that follows that co-production is part of the nature of public service delivery, because production and consumption occur at the same time. Taking on Stephen’s perspective co-production is just everywhere. He introduced 4 Quadrants of co-production: pure co-production, co-design, and co-construction (I missed the fourth one, but I can be found in two recent articles, one in the 2013 volume of the American Public Administration Review, and another one in 2015 in the British Journal of Public Management).

Budapest_Kalvin_ter_designIs this alreay co-production? Customers at Kalvin tér metro station in Budapest, Oct 15.

Comments from the audience pointed on two major issues: Stephen delivered a series of good and also entertaining arguments why co-production is a relevant issue. But are there any examples of successful co-production? Stephen gave a negative example of co-production effects from mental health care in Scotland. Children had a say there in the co-design of new residential homes. And what they wanted was to have the door handle at the bottom of the door – so they could leave themselves. But this is not what social workers really want.

The second issue is a lack of quantitative measures to co-production intensity and its potential impacts on organizational performance. Stephen argued that qualitative research is the only approach because service delivery and thus co-production is about processes. But in fact there is work going on to address this issue: The next day Marco Meneguzzo from London Open University presented a set of potential indicators to capture the extent of co-production activities.

And there is (even more) good news. Per Skalen from Karlstad University gave an example of successful co-production from Swedish health care. The inclusion of patients in designing the treatment increases clinical outcomes. So co-production to the innovation forefront!


When and why public administration innovates (pt. 3)

This is part 3/3 of my talk that I delivered a HSE Open Day 2015 in Gorky Park in Moscow.

Obstacles to innovative behavior

You might think: Fair enough. There are so many examples of best practices out there, but why not in my home town? Why do I have to wait hours and hours to file a form? Why are bureaucrats still impolite?

A lack of innovative behavior in some administrations is due to the lack of competition in the public sector as a whole. Performance is not linked to the survival of units; public organizations have the property of “semi-immortality” (Choi and Chandler 2015 Lead & Gov, p. 144). Max Weber, a famous researcher from Germany, and researchers from the progressive era in the US, wrote about how public administration should look like (normative approach). Others including Barnard (1938), Simon’s classic ‚Administrative Behavior‘ from 1947, and March and Simon’s ‚Organizations’ from 1958, asked “what motivates bureaucrats to behave as they do?”. This was the „behavioral revolution in the study of organizations“ (Kenneth J. Meier and George A. Krause. 2005. The Scientific Study of Bureaucracy: An Overview. George A. Krause and Kenneth J. Meier (eds). Politics, Policy, and Organizations: Frontiers in the Scientific Study of Bureaucracy. University of Michigan Press, 1-19. P. 3). If we think of public administrations as utility maximizers, which I think makes sense, it is rational for them to maximize budgets, reputation, and hopefully also the public interest. In any case, maximizing the public interest will not be their only goal. Reason one.

Some elected officials do not adopt a new practice because they intend to protect their managerial autonomy. Two strategies are available for public organizations, the first one being to innovate and to identify new opportunities; and the second one being to use existing knowledge. There is a strategy of exploration of new knowledge and a strategy of exploitation of existing knowledge. Innovative organizations may witness a failure trap and a success trap. Failure trap means that reform and change occurs to frequently in public bureaucracies. Decision makers do not wait until a prior reform has been implemented and works. They start something new because they don’t see any benefits from recent reforms; they have lost sight of the fact that the potential benefits are long term. Reason two.

Two questions arise from what I said so far: How to spread innovation in Public Administration? And what does that mean for Moscow, the City we are living in?

First, how to spread innovation beyond frontrunners and change agents? One idea might be a patent system for the public sector. There is a gap between taking the risk to innovate and realizing the benefits from them, because new ideas, programs or processes, i.e. innovations, are considered as public value (Choi and Chandler 2015 Lead & Gov, p. 142). In contrast to the private sector there is no patent system that secures the claims of an innovative individual. How can we make that a best-practice becomes the industry-standard in the sector? Which is similar to the question: How to facilitate knowledge-transfer and information spillover? I consider two basic approaches: The first one is the Chinese approach. China has a long tradition of policy-experiments in its provinces, the equivalent to the Russian Regions. A pilot is tested in a number of municipalities or provinces. If it works it is spread all over the country and implemented in other administrations. This is a centralized approach to knowledge transfer. (Charlotte Lee and Xiaobin He. Development and Change 42(2) 329-352. Heilmann 2008. The China Journal 59.). This might work. Accidents on the job are common in China. Not because there is a lack of regulation, but because of corruption. But recently central government has adjusted the performance indicators that are used to assess whether a bureaucrat will be promoted. Now, the number of accidents at work in a given jurisdictions contributes to performance assessment. Guess what happened: The number of industrial accidents sharply decreased.

On the other hand there is a fiscal federalism approach. The approach is based on the notion that voters are (i) mobile and (ii) sensitive to performance differentials. Both approaches claim to contribute to improvement of public service delivery. But they reflect two views of the world. This can be seen from the following quotation from a former Chief Executive of a large English Local authority from an interview that I conducted in 2013: (This and much more quotations from a set of some 50 interviews can be found in a forthcoming book, Tim Jäkel: Benchmarking in der öffentlichen Verwaltung: Ein europäischer Ländervergleich, Speyrer Forschungsberichte. Speyer 2015).

„One thing … local government is really good [at is that] we learn by a whole variety of ways which is best [idea] and this becomes industry standard. … [This is] an approach that a top-down centrally led approach by central government would never be able to do.“

So, one question is how ideas develop and spillover to others. But even more interesting is the question how learning and knowledge transfer impact organizational performance. These are some of the questions I am currently doing research on at the HSE School of Public Administration. And these are the things you will probably hear about in one of my classes.

Application to Moscow

What does all that mean for Moscow, the City we are living in? Moscow is large, and (ii-iii) for sure has a large body of skilled professionals. And a lot of them have been hired from outside. Sobjanin is the most prominent example. (iv) There are internal performance management structures, though they have to been further developed (see Barabashev 2014). I suggest to give more managerial and fiscal autonomy to the cities boroughs and its districts. This will allow launching policy experiments within defined ranges. The big asset is that City Government is willing to listen to demands from citizens, and to fix reported problems.

This is why I am confident that there will be – maybe small – but steady improvement. A last picture shows a recent change that fueled my confidence. There is an old-school but still common timetable for public buses.


It is odd, because it indicates intervals between single buses. But when the bus will eventually arrive is unpredictable. Now, this looks much better.

FahrplanneunahThe bus line 119 is expected to arrive at 8.09. Good. People can now monitor whether public transportation is on due time. At the end of the day they can hold bureaucrats to account. On Gorod.Mos.ru.

— End


When and why public administration innovates (pt. 2)

(Featured photo: Alexandra Selivanova //  Селиванова Александра Владимировна)

This is part II of a talk that I delivered at HSE Open Day 2015 at Moscow’s Gorky Park on Sept 9:

In my last post I gave some anectoal evidence on public sector innovation from the OECD-world. But what is the empirical evidence – what drives innovation in Public Administration? Research has identified some patterns: An innovative local public sector organization has the following internal properties:

(i) it is large, in terms of organizational, staff or population size.

(ii) It features a significant share of highly-educated professionals that can focus on adopting and implementing new ideas without adversely affecting daily working routines.

(iii) An innovative organization’s staff includes externally hired professionals. Managers that have been hired from outside the organization positively affect the supply side of innovation; job mobility is a relevant source of policy entrepreneurs.

(iv) Innovative agencies posses an internal Performance Management system that allows for internal risk sharing techniques and establish a risk-taking culture.

(v) An innovative organization ensures a high level of employee empowerment by offering knowledge and skill training. This empowerment practice increases encouragement on innovative behavior, i.e. “recovering quickly from errors, learning from those discoveries, generating innovative proposal for redesigning processes and products.” (Fernandez and Moldogaziev 2013 JPart).

(vi) Apparently decision makers tend to innovate in “good times”, though we would expect new ideas after things went wrong. Pallesen (2004 Governance) found that relative fiscal leeway and wealth enables communities to take the risk to privatize community assets. The implication is that innovation adoption is “the politics of good times”.

While these items are uncontroversial, the impact of performance gaps and peer effects is not. Therefore is will discuss the role performance and peer effects on innovative behavior a little bit more.

(vii) Innovative organizations do experience performance gaps, i.e. gaps between aspiration levels for salient goal variables and current performance On the one hand poor relative performance has been found to result in problemistic search processes, organizational learning efforts and innovative activity among members both of private and public sector organizations. On the other hand Public Choice theory tells us that organizations with performance shortfalls tend to avoid innovative behavior. They have an incentive to provide a baseline level of performance. But they will not go for the extra-mile. In my own research I found that large cities in Germany that have a high level of public debt tend to avoid performance comparisons, an innovative practice in public management.  Researchers from Sweden found that highly indebted Swedish municipalities in Sweden are more likely to stick to performance evaluation. Almost the same variable, but opposite effect.

(Viii) Innovation organizations learn from, strategically interact with and mimic innovative peers.  There are good arguments that decision makers have a look at their neighbor before they choose themselves. Has my neighbor adopted the innovation? The mechanism for improvement is competitive learning, that is, policy-transfer because public authorities compete for investments, voters, and taxpayers by performing well on performance scores (yardstick competition approach, Besley and Case 1995 AER). Voters are sensitive to the performance of the incumbent relative to those observed in neighboring jurisdictions; performance indicators act as a yardstick, i.e. a benchmark to inform their voting-decision.

However, the role of peer effects in innovation diffusion has been doubted. Diffusion of innovation might not result from competitive or pure learning but from a search of legitimacy. Some agencies just adopt a policy to gain a reputation premium. But they do not implement it. Public organizations may also adopt an innovation to comply with external regulation or in search of legitimacy but without fully implementing the new routine. There might be mimicry and copycatting, but no improvement of organizational performance.


When and why public administration innovates (pt. 1)

Today I delivered a talk at HSE Open Day 2015 in Moscow Gorky Park (pictured). Here is Part I of what is said:

Moscow is an innovation-driven city, according to the Innovation Cities Index 2014 (which ranked Moscow 63 out of 445). Or as The Economist recently put it – partly jealously, partly admiring – “Russia’s great strength throughout the centuries has been that its people can seemingly adapt to any conditions”.

No doubt, innovation is a top priority in Moscow. There are seven technology parks, young researchers are awarded and the city intends to further develop its innovation and research structure.

But this is private sector innovation. Infrastructure investments result in innovation in the private sector. An example is yandex.taxi. Using geospatial information from the Open data portal of Moscow the quality and quantity of taxi services has improved significantly throughout the last four years. Good. What about innovation in the Public Sector and Public Administration?

Innovative behavior means “to seek out new and better ways of doing things” (Fernandez and Moldogaziev 2013), and some public authorities try to improve citizen’s well-being by doing so. Aforementioned Yandex.taxi application builds on open Data. Moscow’s Open data portal (data.mos.ru) and its bigger sister, the Our City website (gorod.mos.ru) are public sector innovations; e-government innovations.


Both sites have a potential to improve the public interest. Making administrative data publicly available creates transparency. It is a tool to hold people to account for their actions. Open data portal is not very popular (10,000 visits per day) so far compared to Our City Website (2,000,000). Nonetheless, it is a contribution to hold bureaucrats to account for their actions and the resulting outcomes. Even when the number of clicks is low, it sets incentives to achieve at least a baseline level of performance. Our city is the place where people complain, but also receive public services. It is a source to identify self-reported problems, and to fix them. People complain there, and monitor the implementation of requests. Posted photos show results from actions that were taken to address a reported problem (a broken skid, a pothole, a pile of rubish). A new feature is a reporting tool for excessive pricing in pharmacy. Such innovation is driven by latent demand. I experienced such excessive pricing myself. And seemingly other people did as well. The new innovative reporting tool responds to such latent demand. It makes life better a little bit. I feel better when I have the feeling that somebody takes note of daily-life problems. By doing so Our city increase my personal well-being.

Put generally, an innovation is an idea, a program or a policy, which is new to the organization adopting it, regardless of the number of prior adoptions in surrounding peer units. This is the seminal definition of Walker 1969 which has been replicated since then.

E-Government and e-services are typical examples of innovative behavior in public administration. Several municipalities and government agencies in the US have implemented such e-services. Submitting your tax declaration or booking an appointment online is getting common also in Germany. One-stop agencies (products and service innovation, Bhatti 2004) are another innovative practice. Municipalities in Denmark and England have introduced such citizen’s centers. Tewkesbury Borough Council established a one-stop agency, or customer service center (in Dec 2014). North Somerset has established a similar multi-agency citizens portal. East Riding of Yorkshire and Scarborough Borough Council has a ‚virtual customer service centre‘ since 2012. The London Borough of Croydon has a customer service center reported in Jan 2015 (‚Access Croydon‘). Customer service centers normally work like this: On arrival you will be met and shown where to go. You are able to book appointments in advance, online. All of this will reduce waiting time. The objective is twofold; to tailor public service delivery to citizen’s need; and realize efficiency savings. In England such innovative behavior is clearly driven by the deepest spending cuts in recent history. The Spending Review 2010 asks for severe budget cuts, particular in local council’s budgets. At the same time, central government restricts councils‘ autonomy to raise council taxes. For local councils that means “to seek out new and better ways of doing things”.

Another interesting example of innovative behavior from England is the YouChoose budget tool, a simulator to engage citizens in budget cuts; which was first applied by London Borough of Redbridge. It’s a web based simulation: Regular people, like you and I, adjust spending levels of a basket of functions, see the consequences for service delivery (example from demo: reduced frequency of street cleaning), but budget need to be balanced and council tax cannot be raised by more than 5\%- these are the rules of the simulation. If so you can submit your propositions to the local council.

However, budget cuts in England also drive innovative search activities, which have unintended side effects for local residents. This is called pay-as-you-go government. Public administrations (and elected governments) are charging higher fees for public services to fill budget gaps. By doing so they avoid raising taxes, which is associated with the political risks of losing public support and votes. In principal to charge people for a service avoids overconsumption and prevents free-riding. But in some cases the charge of a service now exceeds its costs; the charge becomes a tax (The Economist, Pay-as-you-go government, August 29th-September4th 2015). Public Administrators became too innovative.