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Rethinking the effect of risk aversion on the benefits of service innovations in public administration agencies


Torugsa, N and Arundel, A, Rethinking the effect of risk aversion on the benefits of service innovations in public administration agencies, Research Policy, 46, (5) pp. 900-910. ISSN 0048-7333 (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

© 2017 Elsevier B.V.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.respol.2017.03.009


This study applies a holistic approach grounded in configurational theory to a sample of 2505 innovative public administration agencies in Europe to explore the effect of organizational risk aversion on the benefits from service innovations. The analyses, using fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (QCA),identify several combinations of strategies (varying by the agency size and the novelty of innovation) that managers in risk-averse agencies can use to work effectively around the risks of innovating. The findings show that the managers of both high and low risk-averse agencies can achieve high benefits from their innovation efforts, but their strategizing behaviors differ. An integrated strategy that combines collaboration, complementary process and communication innovations, and an active management strategy to support innovation is the most effective method for ‘low-risk-averse’ small agencies and ‘high-risk-averse’ larger agencies to obtain high benefits from either novel or incremental service innovations. Our results point to the need to rethink the conventional assumption that a culture of risk aversion in public sector agencies is a cause of management ineffectiveness and a stumbling block to innovation success.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:risk aversion, public services, service innovations, innovation benefits, strategies, configurational theory
Research Division:Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Research Group:Strategy, management and organisational behaviour
Research Field:Innovation management
Objective Division:Economic Framework
Objective Group:Management and productivity
Objective Field:Public sector productivity
UTAS Author:Torugsa, N (Dr Ann Torugsa)
UTAS Author:Arundel, A (Professor Anthony Arundel)
ID Code:115576
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:47
Deposited By:TSBE
Deposited On:2017-03-31
Last Modified:2018-05-22

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