Open Social Innovation: Giving public administration a helping hand

2022-01-27 Lüneburg/Berlin. Public administration faces many challenges, some of which are very complex. To overcome them, digital swarm intelligence can help. The principle of Open Social Innovation shows one way to do this, which Professor Dr. Thomas Gegenhuber of Leuphana University Lüneburg and Prof. Dr. Johanna Mair of the Hertie School have examined in more detail.

Open Social Innovation could help the administration in Germany to identify and solve complex problems. This requires forums and processes that involve not only top officials, but also representatives from civil society, science and business. To identify suitable processes, Gegenhuber and his colleague evaluated experiences and observations gathered from one of the best-known examples of open social innovation: the program surrounding the UpdateDeutschland hackathon.

The researchers' study shows that close collaboration between citizens and the administration requires a communication infrastructure. For UpdateDeutschland, the online platform Slack was available for communication. The non-governmental organization ProjectTogether coordinated the process.

One of the main findings is that innovation occurs when citizens and administrators have the broadest possible expertise on a problem and engage in direct dialog. In addition, innovation processes such as open social innovation should be accompanied by mentors who provide methodological support and moderate between the different parties. According to the Learning Report, an open attitude and financial support from the administration are also helpful.

"Open Social Innovation can help the state and society to find collaborative approaches to solutions for pressing contemporary issues. Up to now, existing administrative structures have not been geared to this kind of ad hoc action involving citizens," the two researchers are convinced.

All results of the report "Update Germany: Thinking and Learning Open Social Innovation" will be presented in an online event on January 31, 2021, from 12:00 to 13:00. The event will be hosted by the project initiator ProjectTogether. Afterwards, there will be an opportunity for the press to ask questions. Please register in advance for the event via registration link and email to the Hertie School press office. Registration link.

Further information on the Update Germany project is available here: