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  • Local government as a facilitator of systemic social innovation

    Sharon Zivkovic

    Chapter from the book: Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government, . 2013. 3rd National Local Government Research Forum.


    It is widely recognised that new and innovative approaches are required to address the complex, wicked problems that communities face. To tackle these challenges, local governments are developing new and innovative products, services and processes, and replicating innovations that are promoted as having been successfully implemented in other local government areas. This paper argues that approaches focusing on separate individual product, service and process innovations, and then replicating these innovations in new contexts, are not suitable for wicked problems. Instead, it is argued that local governments need to take a systemic approach to innovation when addressing wicked problems: an approach that is informed by complex adaptive systems theory that is specific to an individual community’s unique needs, and utilises the community’s unique resources and collective intelligence. To demonstrate this approach, a diagnostic tool for systemic social innovation which was reasoned during a project with the City of Onkaparinga is described. This tool highlights nine areas that local governments can focus upon to facilitate systemic social innovation. Five of these areas enable communities to unlock their complex adaptive system dynamics; two areas assist government systems to undertake unplanned explorations of solutions with communities; and two areas assist government systems to exploit the knowledge, ideas and innovations that emerge from community-led activities. A new research project is then described which aims to investigate if this diagnostic tool can be used to affect systemic change in a local government area.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Zivkovic, S. 2013. Local government as a facilitator of systemic social innovation. In: Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government, (ed.), 3rd National Local Government Research Forum. Sydney: University of Technology Sydney ePress. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5130/aac.b

    This is an Open Access chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (unless stated otherwise), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).

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    Published on Jan. 1, 2013


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