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Public sector innovation and local leadership in the UK and The Netherlands

Robin Hambleton and Joanna Howard

27 June 2012

Can civic leaders tackle social exclusion by engaging in radical public service innovation?

The current economic and political climate has little room for alternatives to cuts and austerity. However, radical initiatives which stress the importance of place-based leadership in advancing social inclusion are in development in the UK and elsewhere.

Exploring the role of place-based leadership in Bristol and Swindon in the UK, and Enschede in The Netherlands, the study found:

  • that the narrow vision of cutback management lacks wisdom.
  • that leaders with an emotional commitment to social inclusion enable innovation to flourish and can encourage others.
  • That 'Innovation Stories' recording practical experiences on the ground offer inspiration to other areas.

This study offers an alternative to the dominant 'do more with less' philosophy dominating public policy making in many EU countries. As such, it makes a valuable contribution to the debate about the nature of post-austerity society.

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