ISBE 2018: Public Sector Entrepreneurship



Professor Joyce Liddle, Northumbria University

Public Sector Entrepreneurship: New approaches and perspectives on research, policy & practice

An accelerated pace of global uncertainty, increased performance requirements, rising citizen demands, and stakeholder engagement are forcing public leaders (including political, bureaucratic and civic, or a combination of all three) to respond by being ever more entrepreneurial, using innovative ways of working, and stimulating new learning and knowledge exchange. Universal solutions, or ‘one size fits all’ approaches to complex social problems are no longer appropriate as no one public or private agency can satisfy all citizen demands for tailoring services to personal needs. Public agencies are now working ever more closely with non-profit, voluntary/third sector, charitable and faith based organisations to deliver services.

Citizens are no longer passive consumers but empowered individuals who expect state agencies to provide more personalised services and choice, either those more akin to private provision, or increasingly through a wider range of civic providers. An iPod generation expecting personalised service delivery and rapid responses to problems needs to be set against a backdrop of ‘finite resources and infinite demands’ meaning that innovation and entrepreneurship will become even more crucial in future. Soft skills of innovation and entrepreneurship will profoundly affect future motivation, and capacity to change, willingness to engage stakeholders and enthusiasm for continuous learning and nowadays a plurality of inter-relationships between state, market and civic institutions have become the focal point for co-production and co-responsibility of public service delivery and production of public value.

Twenty first century governance raises questions on the types of institutions, organizational and leadership capacities needed in future to synergise and harness state resources, capacities and knowledge with those of market and civic institutions. Moreover, less hierarchical, top down, bureaucratic leadership, is being replaced by more horizontal, bottom up, facilitative and enabling entrepreneurial activities as local and national government personnel work in close partnership with communities and not for profit organisations.

This ISBE theme is aimed at moving the study of entrepreneurship in the public interest from the periphery of entrepreneurship scholarship, to the core, because public organisations are relatively under–studied in entrepreneurship literature. Moreover, limited research exists on entrepreneurship in public management, non-profit, voluntary/third and charitable sectors and faith based institutions. It is also a response to challenges that urge scholars to look for explanations of innovation, creativity and enterprise practices in public service delivery. The literature in this field is still evolving so the leader of this ISBE theme is keen to welcome contributions and discussion papers from scholars and practitioners across a wide range of topics broadly defined within civic, social and public entrepreneurship research, such as –

• Is public entrepreneurship an oxymoron? Or does entrepreneurship happen in purely private/commercial settings?
• The relevance and significance of public sector entrepreneurship in a complex governance world
• Why and how enterprise/entrepreneurship is important for public service delivery?
• Comparative and multi-disciplinary research on public entrepreneurship
• Developing conceptual, theoretical and methodological frameworks for investigating public entrepreneurship
• Multi-spatial and multi-level policies for enterprise, innovation and entrepreneurship in the public sector. The role of local and national governance as entrepreneur and animateur
• Public entrepreneurship in the ‘spaces’ between formal regulatory governance and informal, individual agency
• Specific cases on public entrepreneurship in different sectors (education, health, economic development, or others) and settings (rural, local, partnerships)
• Enterprising places: the role of the public entrepreneurship in transforming spaces
• Case studies of successful public entrepreneurship: identifying the key characteristics
• Public entrepreneurship in collaboration and partnership with non-state agencies eg non-profit, voluntary/third sector, charities and faith based organisations
• Developing communities- entrepreneurialism in engaging citizen groups
• Professional and practice based empirical data on public entrepreneurship
• The training and education needs of public entrepreneurs