The following critical evaluation and review are dedicated to an exploration of a case study of implementing innovative technologies and change in the paradigm of public governance on an example of a digital library of Roskilde University, Denmark. This case study uses a description of the changes that took place in the library starting from the 1990s to the present day and considers it in the context of the study of public governance and innovation to illustrate and investigate the discussed model of J. Hartley (Governance and innovation in public sector services: The case of the digital library, 2015, p. 1). The model, on which the study is based has been provided by Jean Hartley, an expert researcher from University of Warwick Business School, and shows the three approaches to innovations in the public sector, covering the post-war period.
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The abstract used in the original research paper provides a general overview of the study, and identifies the purpose of the paper, outlining the methods, steps taken to highlight the key points of the model and extend it for further use, and main findings. However, the abstract does not include any mention of a reason for using Hartley’s model in the first place, nor does it offer an explanation of the example taken for illustration.
The introduction of the paper has adequate length when compared to the body of the work, and here an explanation of the use of a specific framework is put forward, moreover, the authors further explain their research goals, identifying them as necessity to expand the proposed model and the possibility of applying thus expanded and enhanced model to a specific public domain chosen to illustrate this research, namely, the public libraries. Still, this introductory note does not provide with a reason for choosing this specific model or an explanation why this model would fit the goals of the research in the best way. While Professor Jean Hartley is a well-known expert in public leadership and has conducted numerous reliable and high-quality researches and has developed ideas, following which became best practice in the field of public service innovation, none of this information was provided in the article introduction or further in the article itself.
No other models of frameworks, which could have been useful for the research or for the purposes of comparing and contraposition of such examples, have been provided, as well; however, some of the researches on the topic have been quoted. Under this approach it may seem that the given model is the only one allowed for use in research, but another researcher, Leslie Budd (2007) may argue with that: “Given that there is no single model of NPM [New Public Management], a network approach may provide a way by which more complex institutional interactions can be analysed” (p. 535). In fact, the use of Hartley’s model is justified because it combines the known approaches into a well-structured system, which allows to compare them and highlights the differences; however, the authors of the paper fail to provide such an argument. The introduction also does not explain the reason for choosing the Roskilde University Library for illustration of the thesis, but such explanation can be found further, in part 4 of the work, where the case study is being thoroughly investigated. Thus, it can be said that the introduction to the article is rather solid but somewhat one-sided, which weak point was partially corrected further by presenting the detailed information in other sections.
The body of the paper is substantial, and the information on methodology and results of the research, as well as the analysis of the topic, are detailed and comprehensive. It consists of five sections, excluding the introduction and the conclusion, namely: “Defining key concepts and their interrelations”, “Modeling the links between public governance and innovation”, “Research context, case study and data collection”, “Analysis and results”, and “Discussion of results: elements for improving the framework”. The sections are, in turn, divided into smaller subsections, which make the paper more readable and allow to search for necessary information in a fast and easy way. The methods used in the research are clearly explained and justified, and the important details of data collection and conducting the research are shown, as well.
For example, in the section dedicated to the case study, a highly elaborated process of data collection is described: numerous interviews with library workers, authorities and users were conducted, as well as the workshops, seminars, meetings and blog interaction, all of which allowed to collect data for analysis. Both the technique and the description of it are relevant and definitive. No gaps could be identified in the methodology or the findings, probably due to the scrupulousness of the research and the amount of information for analysis. The Section of the article concerning the methods of application of the chosen model also offers the readers some background information about the subject of public governance and innovation implementation, in general, as well as a high-quality analysis of the model selected for use.
The discussion and analysis in the paper are well balanced, the authors acknowledge the merits of the research, which is aimed to contribute to the ongoing debates on interrelation of changes in public governance modes and public sector innovation; at the same time they recognize the need to simplify the results and dismiss some of the useful resources, for the sake of essentiality. The conclusion is complete and solid, and the authors show that they were able to answer both questions posed at the beginning of the paper and to support the arguments with research evidence. The authors have proven all four points considering the possible extensions of the framework, and investigated the application of the extended model to the library sector, as one of the most open to the innovation areas of the public sector. Still, it might have been helpful to provide more distinguished recommendations for future researches on the subject, or the ideas for improvement in the research that was conducted, in addition to the results description.
Budd, L. (2007). Post-bureaucracy and reanimating public governance. A discourse and practice of continuity? International Journal of Public Sector Management 20(6), 531-547.
Governance and innovation in public sector services: The case of the digital library. (2015).