P13 How to create enhanced social impact: scaling urban innovative initiative

Panel Chairs:
Karin Geuijen, Rianne Dekker and Christoph Reinprecht

Corresponding Chair:
Karin Geuijen, K.Geuijen@uu.nl

Public innovation often starts with small scale pilots and experiments. Urban living labs, design experiments and innovation labs (Sabel & Zeitlin 2012, Cloutier et al. 2015, Bergvall-Kåreborn & Ståhlbröst; Bason, 2016; McGann et al., 2018; Tõnurist et al., 2017, Hajer & Pelzer 2018) can spur transformational processes on national and even international levels of governance. The impact of successful projects can be enhanced by upscaling and/or outscaling them. However, scaling local innovation turns out to be difficult (Hermans, Roep & Klerkx, 2016) and needs to take the specifics of new contexts into account (Williams 2017). Academic knowledge of how and why these initiatives (do not) scale is limited. The characteristics of actors and the nature of the institutional setting seem to be important determinants.

This panel aims to develop empirical knowledge on how successful innovative projects (could) scale by inviting papers which explore questions concerning:

  • how and why innovative projects make strategic choices on scaling;
  • how institutional characteristics facilitate or hinder these processes; and
  • which outcomes are achieved under which conditions

The panel aims to develop theoretical knowledge by contributing to debates in public management studies on public innovation, on scalability and transferability of policy interventions, on design thinking in policy processes, on collaborative (multi-level and multi-sector) governance, as well as on co-creation and co-production.

One of the workshops in the panel will be dedicated to scaling innovative pilots in refugee reception and integration. We invite proposals on this theme as well as on other relevant themes like curbing climate change, enhancing the circular economy, urban mobility, the energy transition, and creating jobs and (social) enterprises in the local economy.


Bason, C. (2016). Design for policy. Oxon: Routledge.
Bergvall-Kåreborn, B. & Ståhlbröst, A. (2009). Living Lab: An open and citizen-centric approach for innovation. International Journal of Innovation and Regional Development, 1(4). 356–370.
Cloutier, G., Joerin, F., Dubois, C., Labarthe, M., Legay, C., Viens, D.(2015). Planning adaptation based on local actors’ knowledge and participation: a climate governance experiment. Climate Policy 15: 458-474.
Hajer, M., Pelzer, P.,(2018), 2-50 – An Energetic Odyssey: Understanding “Techniques of Futering” in the transition towards renewable energy. Energy Research & Social Sciences 44: 222-231.
Hermans, F., D. Roep and L. Klerkx, (2016). ‘Scale dynamics of grassroots innovations through parallel pathways of transformative change’, Ecological Economics, 130: 285-295.
McGann, M., Blomkamp, E. & Lewis, E.M. (2017). The rise of public sector innovation labs: experiments in design thinking for policy. Policy Science. Online First.
Tõnurist, P., Kattel, R., & Lember, V. (2017). Innovation labs in the public sector: what they are and what they do?. Public Management Review, 19(10), 1455-1479.
Sabel, C. F., & Zeitlin, J. (2012). Experimentalist governance. In: Levi-Faur, D. (Ed.). The Oxford handbook of governance (pp. 169-183). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Williams, M.(2017), ‘External validity and policy adaptation: from impact evaluation to policy design.’ Oxford: University of Oxford, Blavatnik School of Government, working papers series BSG-WP-2017-019