The Nature and Incidence of Workgroup Innovation in the Australian Public Sector: Evidence from the Australian 2011 State of the Service Survey

N.A. Torugsa*, A. Arundel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Using data from a nationally representative survey of all Australian Government employees, we explore the nature of innovation implemented at the workgroup level and assess the multi-dimensionality of the workgroup's 'most significant innovation' (MSI). Of the 10222 survey respondents, 48% reported at least one innovation implemented by their workgroup, with an innovation more commonly reported with an increase in the respondent's age, seniority, and service experience; among men and university graduates. The results reveal that 54% of the reported MSIs incorporate between two and five dimensions of innovation types (policy, service, service delivery, administrative/organizational, and conceptual), and most of these dimensions reinforce each other. Different dimensions of the MSI draw on different sources of ideas (with senior leaders having the broadest impact), face different 'revealed' barriers, require different levels of workplace creativity, and produce different beneficial effects. Our findings help strengthen an understanding of the influencing factors and the effects of multi-dimensional public sector innovations. This large-scale empirical study explores the nature of workgroup-level innovations in the Australian public sector and assesses the multi-dimensionality of the 'most significant innovation' (MSI). The results show that some MSIs encompass more than one dimension of innovation types, and each dimension is influenced by different factors and produces different benefits. Australian Journal of Public Administration © 2016 Institute of Public Administration Australia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)202-221
Number of pages20
JournalAustralian Journal of Public Administration
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016

JEL classifications

  • o32 - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D


  • Barriers
  • Idea sources
  • Most significant innovation (MSI)
  • Public sector innovation
  • Workgroup
  • Workplace creativity
  • workgroup
  • public sector innovation
  • most significant innovation (MSI)
  • idea sources
  • barriers
  • workplace creativity

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