Social innovation and service delivery by local government: a comparative perspective

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Biljohn, Mareve Inge Madlyn
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University of the Free State
English: Orientation: An increase in the world population, estimated at 7.3 billion mid 2015 (United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs 2015:1), inevitably puts pressure on the availability of resources (food, water, energy, and shelter, to name a few). Successfully meeting this demand for resources, and ultimately delivering sustainable services to societal needs, will depend to a large extent on the processes that are implemented by local government(s) (LG/LGs) and on how these needs are met through citizen participation and innovation. It is noted, therefore, that social innovation (SI) is often utilised by LGs to address the demand for resources and ultimately deliver sustainable services to societal needs of the twenty-first century (Sørensen & Torfing 2011:847; Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) 2014; Cipolla & Moura 2012:44; Novy & Leubolt 2005:2023–2034; Hart, Jacobs, & Mhula 2013:29). The real measure of SI is in its application resulting in sustainable services for its users (European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions 2013:7), which is often seen as the creation of public value (Meričkova, Nemec, & Svidronova 2015:532). Providing sustainable services and creating public value through service delivery seem to confront LGs globally with the challenge of how to effectively use SI in the improvement of service delivery. In light of this, this thesis investigates the use of SI in the service delivery of LG through a comparative look at the City of Ghent (CoG) (East Flanders province, Belgium) and the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality (MMM) (Free State province, SA). Research purpose: The purpose of this study is embedded in contextual research, explanatory research, and generative research. Through contextual research, the use of SI during LG service delivery (referred to as the or a phenomenon), as well as how it exists within the different LG contexts, was explored. Explanatory research highlighted the driving forces behind the use of SI during LG service delivery and its occurrences, examining reasons for associations between what exists regarding the nature of the phenomenon and how the phenomenon is organised in different local contexts. Generative research was used in respect of the public administration and SI discourses, the policy and LG spheres in Belgium (East Flanders province) and SA (Free State province), the LG service delivery environments in the CoG and the MMM, and the framework for the enhanced use of SI in LG service delivery. Motivation for the study: This study was carried out in view of SI remaining a latent area in the South African LG sphere despite its growing use in public sector service delivery globally, with specific reference to LG. The increased utilisation of SI in LG service delivery globally thus warrants exploration. A comprehensive understanding of the use of SI in LG service delivery was therefore deemed important in order to inform a framework for the enhanced use of SI during LG service delivery. Lastly, service delivery challenges in the MMM makes it prudent to investigate alternative strategies, such as SI, in order to improve LG service delivery. Research design, approach and method: Through a qualitative research design, combined with a case study approach, the use of SI during service delivery was explored as a phenomenon about which little is known and which requires a holistic understanding. Qualitative research methods were used to both collect and analyse the data, and data collection instruments included documents (naturally occurring data), semi-structured interviews (generated data), and focus group discussions (generated data). Main findings: From the shortcomings of traditional Public Administration (PA), New Public Management (NPM), and New Public Governance (NPG) regarding citizen participation in LG service delivery, it is clear that a Pubic Administration and governance theory should be developed that will be able to position citizen participation as central to LG service delivery. The findings illustrate that open governance systems would not automatically result in sustainable, quality, and quantity service delivery, as this depends extensively on who participates in devising solutions as well as on the delivery and governance of services. During the governance of services in the LG service delivery system, social systems and technical systems should be used in equilibrium in order to address the complex societal challenges of the twenty-first century. In respect of collaboration, this study highlighted that the use of SI during the co-production of LG service delivery is premised on a symbiotic, interdependent, and reciprocal relationship between citizens, LG officials, and politicians. Practical implications: The practical implications highlighted by this study include, first, the meticulous planning of citizen participation when SI is used during the respective stages of the co-production service delivery cycle. Further, a conducive internal organisational context is required that advances citizen participation in the governance and decision-making of service delivery but which is likewise optimal for enhancing the use of SI during the respective co-production service delivery stages. Adding to this, LG officials and politicians have an important role to play in understanding the value proposition of participation in service delivery to citizens. This value proposition is integral to building and establishing a relationship of trust between citizens, LG officials and politicians. Lastly, consensus concerning the concept of SI, its use, and its implementation is important in light of its consistent use and application within a municipality. Contribution: Over decades, public sector organisations globally have been undergoing various transformations in attempts to improve how they exercise their primary responsibility of service delivery. These transformations influenced the functioning of these organisations, their service delivery processes and systems, their policy implementation, and their governance of decision-making. In the main, these transformations were guided by the introduction of public administration and governance theories, amongst which PA, NPM, and NPG, that influenced the practice of public administration and management during certain timeframes. Amidst these transformations, meaningful citizen participation has not been receiving the attention it deserves, although the implementation of citizen participation by public sector organisations has evolved immensely since the introduction of PA. These organisations are challenged with finding a balance between meeting citizens’ growing service delivery demands and expectations, whilst simultaneously facilitating meaningful citizen participation in governing service delivery and deriving solutions to complex societal and service delivery challenges confronting citizens. To strike this balance, the present thesis presents the use of SI during LG service delivery in order to stimulate the discourse regarding the use of SI within the academic discipline of PA as well as in its practice. It is hoped that this will encourage scholars to investigate the relevance of the conventional PA and governance theories for addressing the complex service delivery problems of the twenty-first century. Further, the study aims to establish the use of SI in LG service delivery as a priority on the PA research agenda. Adding to this, the study presents novel insights regarding similarities as well as differences in the use of SI through a comparative perspective between two LGs, namely the MMM and CoG. Based on the findings from the focus groups and semi-structured interviews, a framework is introduced for the adoption of an SI strategy. This strategy offers a practical approach to the use of SI by outlining the respective roles of citizens, LG officials, and politicians as the triad that underlies the use of SI during service delivery. The framework provided through the adoption of this SI strategy gives citizens political and administrative accountability, builds trust, gives citizens ownership in joint problem solving, empowers citizens through participatory decision-making processes, and advances democratic principles and values. This strategy proposes that convergence between the technical and social systems is central to the use of SI and its use in improving service delivery.
Afrikaans: Oriëntering: ’n Toename in die wêreldpopulasie, wat in die middel van 2015 op 7,3 miljard geskat is (Verenigde Nasies, Departement Ekonomiese en Maatskaplike Sake 2015: 1), plaas noodwendig druk op die beskikbaarheid van hulpbronne (kos, water, energie en skuiling, onder andere). Om met sukses vir hierdie aanvraag na hulpbronne te voorsien, en uiteindelik volhoubare dienste vir die samelewing se behoeftes te lewer, sal tot ’n groot mate afhang van die prosesse wat plaaslike regerings in werking stel en hoe burgerdeelname en innovasie in hierdie behoeftes voorsien. Sosiale innovasie (SI) word gereeld deur plaaslike regerings gebruik om die aanvraag na hulpbronne aan te spreek en uiteindelik volhoubare dienste vir die maatskaplike behoeftes van die een-en-twintigste eeu te lewer (Sørensen & Torfing 2011:847; Organisasie vir Ekonomiese Samewerking en Ontwikkeling 2014; Cipolla & Moura 2012:44; Novy & Leubolt 2005:2023–2034; Hart, Jacobs, & Mhula 2013:29). Sosiale innovasie kan gemeet word wanneer die toepassing daarvan tot volhoubare dienste lei vir dié wat dit gebruik (Europese Stigting vir die verbetering van die lewens-en arbeidsomstandigheden 2013:7), wat dikwels as die skep van waarde vir die publiek gesien word (Meričkova, Nemec, & Svidronova, 2015:532). Die vraag oor hoe om volhoubare dienste te lewer en waarde vir die publiek te skep daag plaaslike regerings wêreldwyd uit om SI doeltreffend in die verbetering van dienslewering te gebruik. Aan die hand hiervan ondersoek hierdie proefskrif die gebruik van SI in die dienslewering van plaaslike regerings, deur ’n vergelyking tussen die Stad Gent (SG) (Oos-Vlaandere, België) en die Mangaung Metropolitaanse Munisipaliteit (MMM) (Vrystaat, Suid-Afrika) te tref. Navorsingsdoel: Die doel van hierdie studie spruit uit kontekstuele navorsing, verklarende navorsing en generatiewe navorsing. Deur kontekstuele navorsing is die gebruik van SI tydens dienslewering in plaaslike regerings (die of ’n fenomeen genoem) ondersoek, asook hoe dit in die verskillende plaaslike regeringskontekste bestaan. Deur verklarende navorsing het die studie uitgelig wat die drywers van die gebruik van SI in dienslewering in plaaslike regerings is en hoe dit voorkom, en is redes ondersoek vir die verband tussen die aard van die fenomeen en hoe dit in verskillende plaaslike kontekste georganiseer word. Generatiewe navorsing is gebruik in die bespreking van die openbare administrasie- en SI-diskoerse, die beleid en plaaslike regeringsfere in België (Oos-Vlaandere) en Suid-Afrika (Vrystaat), die omstandighede rondom dienslewering deur plaaslike regerings in die SG en MMM, en die raamwerk vir die versterkte gebruik van SI in dienslewering deur plaaslike regerings. Motivering vir die studie: Hierdie studie is onderneem aan die hand daarvan dat SI ’n onontwikkelde area in die Suid-Afrikaanse plaaslike regeringsfeer bly, ten spyte daarvan dat dit wêreldwyd toenemend in dienslewering in die openbare sektor gebruik word, veral in plaaslike regerings. Die toenemende wêreldwye gebruik van SI in dienslewering in plaaslike regerings verdien dus om ondersoek te word. Dit is daarom belangrik om die gebruik van SI in dienslewering in plaaslike regerings ten volle te verstaan om uiteindelik ’n raamwerk vir die versterkte gebruik van SI tydens dienslewering in plaaslike regerings op te stel. Laastens is dit wys om aan die hand van uitdagings in dienslewering in die MMM, alternatiewe strategieë soos SI te ondersoek ten einde dienslewering in plaaslike regerings te verbeter. Navorsingsontwerp, benadering en metodes: Deur middel van ’n kwalitatiewe navorsingsontwerp tesame met ’n gevallestudie-benadering, is die gebruik van SI in dienslewering ondersoek as ’n fenomeen waaroor min bekend is en wat holisties verstaan moet word. Kwalitatiewe navorsingsmetodes is gebruik om die data te versamel sowel as te ontleed, en die instrumente wat gebruik is om data te versamel het dokumente (data wat natuurlik voorkom), semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude (gegenereerde data) en fokusgroep-gesprekke (gegenereerde data) ingesluit. Hoofbevindinge: Aan die hand van die tekortkominge van tradisionele Openbare Administrasie (OA), Nuwe Openbare Bestuur (NOB) en Nuwe Openbare Regering (NOR) in terme van burgerdeelname in dienslewering in plaaslike regerings, is dit duidelik dat ’n openbare administrasie- en regeringsteorie ontwikkel moet word wat in staat sal wees om burgerdeelname die kern van dienslewering in plaaslike regerings te maak. Die studie het bevind dat oop regeringstelsels nie outomaties tot volhoubare, kwaliteit en kwantiteit dienslewering lei nie, want dit hang af van wie in die soek na oplossings deelneem en van hoe dienste gelewer en bestuur word. Wanneer plaaslike regerings dienste in die diensleweringstelsel bestuur moet sosiale sisteme en tegniese sisteme in ekwilibrium gebruik word ten einde die komplekse maatskaplike uitdagings van die een-en-twintigste eeu die hoof te bied. In terme van samewerking het hierdie studie uitgewys dat die gebruik van SI tydens die medeproduksie van dienslewering in plaaslike regerings op ’n simbiotiese, interafhanklike en wedersydse verhouding tussen burgers, plaaslike regeringsamptenare en politici gebaseer is. Praktiese implikasies: Die praktiese implikasies van hierdie studie se bevindings is, eerstens, dat burgerdeelname noukeurig beplan moet word wanneer SI in die respektiewe stadiums van medeproduksie in die diensleweringsiklus gebruik word. Verder moet die interne konteks van die organisasie burgerdeelname in die bestuur van en besluitneming rakende dienslewering bevorder, maar moet tegelykertyd optimaal wees om die gebruik van SI tydens die respektiewe stadiums van medeproduksie in die diensleweringsiklus te versterk. Daarby moet plaaslike regeringsamptenare en politici ’n belangrike rol speel en moet die waarde wat deelname aan dienslewering vir burgers bied verstaan. Hierdie waarde is noodsaaklik om ’n verhouding van vertroue tussen burgers, plaaslike regeringsamptenare en politici te bou. Laastens is ooreenstemming rakende die konsep van SI en hoe dit gebruik en toegepas word belangrik sodat ’n munisipaliteit dit konsekwent kan gebruik en toepas. Bydrae: Oor dekades en regoor die wêreld ondergaan organisasies in die openbare sektor verskeie transformasies in ’n poging om te verbeter hoe hulle hulle vernaamste verantwoordelikheid, naamlik dienslewering, op hulle neem. Hierdie transformasies het die funksionering van hierdie organisasies, hulle diensleweringsprosesse en -sisteme, hulle beleidstoepassing en hoe hulle besluitneming bestuur beïnvloed. Oor die algemeen geskied hierdie transformasies deur die bekendstelling van nuwe teorieë van openbare administrasie en regering, onder andere OA, NOB en NOR, wat almal op spesifieke tye die praktyk van openbare administrasie en -bestuur beïnvloed het. Te midde van hierdie transformasies het betekenisvolle burgerdeelname nie die aandag ontvang wat dit verdien nie, alhoewel die implementering van burgerdeelname aansienlik ontwikkel het sedert OA voorgestel is. Hierdie organisasies word dus uitgedaag om ’n balans te kry tussen om aan burgers se behoeftes en verwagtinge te voldoen, en om tegelykertyd betekenisvolle burgerdeelname te bevorder ten einde dienslewering te bestuur en oplossings te soek vir komplekse maatskaplike en dienslewerings-uitdagings wat burgers ondervind. Om hierdie balans te kry, stel hierdie proefskrif die gebruik van SI tydens dienslewering in plaaslike regerings voor ten einde die diskoers aangaande SI in die akademiese vakrigting sowel as die praktyk van openbare administrasie te stimuleer. Hopelik sal dit vakkundiges aanmoedig om die konvensionele openbare administrasie- en regeringsteorieë te ondersoek om vas te stel of hulle toepaslik is om die komplekse diensleweringsprobleme van die een-en-twintigste eeu aan te spreek. Verder sal die studie hopelik die gebruik van SI in dienslewering in plaaslike regerings as ’n prioriteit vestig op openbare administrasie se navorsingsagenda. Daarby bied die studie nuwe insig in die ooreenkomste sowel as verskille in die gebruik van SI deur middel van ’n vergelyking tussen die twee plaaslike regerings, naamlik die MMM en die SG. Met die bevindinge van die fokusgroepe en semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude as vertrekkingspunt, word ’n raamwerk vir die aanneem van ’n SI-strategie voorgestel. Hierdie strategie bied ’n praktiese benadering tot die gebruik van SI deur die respektiewe rolle van burgers, plaaslike regeringsamptenare en politici te beskryf as die triade wat die basis van die gebruik van SI in dienslewering vorm. Die raamwerk wat deur die aanneem van hierdie SI-strategie verskaf word gee aan burgers politieke en administratiewe aanspreeklikheid, bou vertroue, gee aan burgers eienaarskap wanneer hulle gesamentlik probleme oplos, bemagtig burgers deur deelnemende besluitnemingsprosesse, en bevorder demokratiese beginsels en waardes. Hierdie strategie stel voor dat die ineenloping van die tegniese en sosiale sisteme die kern van die gebruik van SI is, sowel as van die gebruik daarvan om dienslewering te verbeter.
Municipal services, Local government, Thesis (Ph.D. (Public Administration and Management))--University of the Free State, 2018, Innovation, Governance, Social innovation