Seminar │ Public innovation: what, why, but above all how


Contemporary public administrations face challenges on an unprecedented scale. Societal problems are becoming ever more complex, citizens’ expectations are constantly growing and new technologies are evolving rapidly (the digital revolution, big data, social networks, etc.). The challenges are not only great but also urgent. One only has to think about the environmental and ethical imperatives currently pushing administrations towards action. And all this must be done without losing sight of the ever-present internal challenges linked to respecting financial rules and human resources management practices which often create highly restrictive frameworks within which political leaders and public administrators are forced to work. Faced with this, and more than ever before, public services must have the capacity to anticipate and analyse needs for change and then implement innovations which render public actions more coherent and effective. Those public services must also remain faithful to the foundational values of a democratic State, within the law and in line with the political projects framing administrative action.


To a large extent, public innovation depends on the capacity of managers at all levels to understand the mechanisms of innovation, provide leadership that is favourable to it and put in place the conditions necessary for their colleagues’ transformational energies to be unleashed. But how should that be done?



By the end of the seminar, participants will have analysed and compared their public innovation practices with the help of the following inputs or aids:

  • An overview of the principal challenges and opportunities linked to public innovation
  • The application of a diagnostic tool to estimate their department or organisation’s capacity for public innovation
  • The use of a three-dimensional exercise (organisational, departmental, managerial) enabling administrators to catalyse their capacity to innovate, using examples and practical tools, and resulting in a personalised action plan
  • An exchange of experiences on the steps implemented by the participants, four months later (morning of 29 May).


Target audience

This seminar is targeted at all persons with executive management roles or specialists heading projects aimed at transforming public action, whether at the strategic level (public policy) or at the operational one (public services). It is also designed for the heads of transversal public services such as finance, human resources or information technology.

2021 Speakers
  • Yves Emery, Professor at IDHEAP, Chair in Public Management and Human Resources,
  • Owen Boukamel, graduate assistant and doctoral student on the topic of public innovation,
  • Christophe Genoud, formerly vice-Chancellor of the Canton of Geneva for eight years.


 Invited speaker: Vincenza Trivigno, Chancellor of State of the Canton of Aargau.


2020 program
Day date Topic
Day 1 16.01.20 Public innovation: challenges, knowledge and trends
What is a public organisation’s capacity for innovation?
Diagnosing your organisation’s capacity for innovation
Involving external actors, Broader governance and networks of actors, Co-design, co-production and involving service-users
Day 2 17.01.20 Using internal leverage
Shared knowledge and organisational learning, Transversal action-a cornerstone of the capacity to innovate, New technologies, Ambidextrous organisation
Taking action as a manager
Transformational leadership, Innovation culture and risk-taking in the public sector
Day 3 29.05.20 (morning only) An exchange of experiences on the actions implemented after the first two days of the seminar
Identification of obstacles and the contextual factors of success

Active participation throughout the whole seminar entitles the participant to a certificate of attendance awarded by IDHEAP.

Registration fees

The cost of this two-and-a-half-day seminar, including all documentation, coffee breaks and midday meals, is CHF 1'200.

A discount of 5%, up to a maximum of CHF 500 per course, is available to any IDHEAP alumni-holding an MPA, DAS or CEMAP, an IDHEAP PhD or a Master’s in PMP - who wish to follow a CAS course or a Seminar for Specialists and Executives organised by IDHEAP. This reduction does not apply to participants in the DAS who subsequently wish to follow the MPA course.

Delay for registration


Registration form

Closed registrations

Practical information

Seminar Director

Prof. Yves Emery

Date, time and location

The 16 and 17 January and 29 May 2020 (a.m.) from 9:00 to 17:00 at IDHEAP.

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Course Manager:
Prof. Yves Emery
+41 21 692 68 70

+41 21 692 68 33

Rue de la Mouline 28 - CH-1022 Chavannes-près-Renens
Tel. +41 21 692 68 00
Fax +41 21 692 68 09