P14 Implementing new technologies in a context of complexity

Panel Chairs:
Professor Helen Dickinson, Dr. Karen Gardner, Professor Deborah Blackman, Dr. Luke Craven and Dr. Sue Olney

Corresponding Chair:
Deborah Blackman, d.blackman@adfa.edu.au

As governments around the world aim to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their public administration processes, innovation in technology is seen as an important way to achieve these goals.  However, it is widely known that much innovation fails to get traction and improvements are not sustained. Inigo and Albareda (2016) and Garud and Turnen (2017) have suggested that for original, novel and sustainable innovation there needs to be a fundamental shift in the way that innovation is conceptualised and implemented.  Instead of thinking about innovation as unfolding separately from the mainstream and then being introduced, it needs to be considered as a part and parcel of core business. To think of innovation as an add-on that needs to be created and then adopted as a separate organisational element is also contradictory to emerging understandings of complexity and complex systems. A complex system is made up of heterogeneous elements that interrelate with one another and with their surroundings; complexity occurs because of the number and diversity of the different elements. To be effective, innovation needs to be integrated within organizational elements such that it emerges from the existing system’s rules and structures.

The panel seeks papers concerned with public sector technology implementation challenges in complex environments at cross-jurisdictional, national or local government levels such as digital employment services or service portal issues. Papers are particularly sought that address:

  • the new skills and/or capabilities required to support sustainable technological implementation in complex environments;
  •  examples and explanations of successful technological implementation in a complex system;
  • the strategic environment in which policy practitioners operate and the relationships they develop to deliver complex public policy innovation;
  • experiences in complex technological innovation implementation and lessons learned along the way;
  • novel methods for studying implementation of technologies within complex systems;
  • the use of data to support complex implementation.


Garud, R. and Turnen, M. (2017). The Banality of Organizational Innovations: Embracing the Substance-Process Duality. Innovation, 19(1):31-38.