Assessing best practice as a means of innovation

Tessa Brannan, Catherine Durose, Peter John, Harold Wolman

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This paper argues that Best Practice and innovation are different, if related activities, with Best Practice being just one of the means by which organisations can innovate. After reviewing the literatures on innovation diffusion and policy transfer, this paper reports the findings of two surveys of Best Practice in English local authorities on, respectively, regeneration and community safety. The paper finds that innovation is related to the CPA, but use of Best Practice is not; that greater capacity affects both innovation and the use of Best Practice; and that there is little link within authorities in the degree of innovation between policy sectors. In evaluating the use of Best Practice, the paper finds that local authorities encounter problems with assessing whether Best Practice is appropriate for their authority and judging whether Best Practice is in fact best practice. With Best Practice guides, the key problem is the difficulty in assessing whether the practice is as effective as the guides suggest and whether it would really work in a particular authority. The paper concludes that more effort could be made to ensure that readers of Best Practice guides can find out how the innovations really work and how they can be adapted to local needs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-38
Number of pages15
JournalLocal Government Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2008


  • best practice local authorities performance


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