The common perception of the public service is that it is stifled by bureaucracy and that its environment is inimical to generating change and innovation from inside. This report explores the hypothesis that the environment of the public service in Australia is in fact suitable for stimulating innovation from the grass roots levels.
A review of literature in the field of innovation leads to the identification of key conditions for fostering innovative ideas from the grass roots. These are found to be stimulus from an organisation's relationship with its environment, integrative structures at the macro and micro levels, and a culture that tolerates risk, has a bias towards action, spans boundaries, and empowers the grass roots. The unique characteristics of public service organisations are then examined with emphasis on recent trends overseas and in Australia.
Based on this analysis a model for stimulating grass roots innovation in the Australian Public Service is proposed. Testing the model using an Australian Public Service department as a case study reveals that, while some slight modifications are necessary, the model is overall valid. The report concludes that grass roots innovation in the Australian Public Service is achievable and makes recommendations for enhancing practices in the subject department.