Innovation Diffusion and Performance in the Public Sector: Empirical Evidence from the Bookstart Programme

公共部門的創新擴散和績效:來自 Bookstart計劃的證據

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Awarding Institution
  • Richard M WALKER (Supervisor)
  • Daming WANG (External person) (External Supervisor)
Award date26 Aug 2022


What makes public organizations adopt an innovation? And what happens after innovation adoption? Those are classic and enduring questions in the literature. A variety of models, concepts, and variables have been brought to bear these topics. This study presented here addresses these research questions by focusing on the theoretical linkage between innovation adoption and public service performance. This study uses the example of the Bookstart Program in Taiwan, Province of China. The Bookstart Program is a significant public service innovation, which was first launched by the Shenpo library in 2003, and is consistently gaining popularity among local public libraries. A longitudinal dataset (2005-2016) was built using data from a variety of official sources and a survey of libraries to answer three questions: (1) How does past organizational performance and service performance influence the public sector innovation adoption? (2) How does innovation adoption influence future organizational performance and service performance? (3) How does objective innovation performance influence perceived innovation performance?

To answer the first question, the study uses a survival analysis of 393 public libraries over the 11-year period. Event history and Cox proportional hazards modelling showed that libraries with higher organizational performance and service performance were significantly more likely to adopt Bookstart, and the higher a libraries’ preadoption performance the earlier it was likely to adopt Bookstart. The diffusion of Bookstart also reflects a dynamic effect of performance on public sector innovation. In the early stage without the policy signal from an upper authority, innovation adoption tends to be based on experience and knowledge. After the upper authority put forward a clear policy signal, innovation adoption relies more on the available resources.

Secondly, this study tests the causal relationship between public service innovation and performance. We use DID method by exploiting a panel data set on a novel public service practice – Bookstart from 2005 to 2016. The results show that innovation adoption leads to an increase in both organizational and service performance. We also examine the moderate effects of organization size, stakeholder participation, and input of resources on the relationship between innovation adoption and performance. The results show that stakeholder participation only could positively moderate the effect of innovation on organizational performance, and input of resources could positively moderate both the relationship between innovation and organizational performance as well as innovation and service performance.

Thirdly, using survey and secondary data, we examine how objective innovation performance is critical to perceived innovation performance, as assessed by public sector leaders. This study examines how objective innovation performance positively affects perceived innovation performance and tests the mediation effect of innovation characteristics. The results show that the objective innovation performance could positively influence the perceived innovation performance, and examine superiority, compatibility, and complexity as the mediators between objective and perceived innovation performance.

This research discussed the relationship between innovation and performance within a holistic framework from three different levels -the overall organizational, specific service, and micro innovation levels. The discussion in this study contributes to the knowledge about innovation diffusion, results of innovation, and measures of innovation performance.

    Research areas

  • public sector innovation, innovation adoption, performance, innovation characteristics, objective and subjective performance, the Bookstart Program