Public sector innovation labs have gained increasing importance as one of the material expressions of public sector innovation and collaborative governance to address complex societal problems. In the current international context, there are various experiences, interpretations, and applications of this concept with similarities and differences but all of them are based fundamentally on the establishment of new forms of participation and collaboration between governments and civil society. This paper aims to examine, through a case study, how policy innovation labs could play a prominent role in promoting decision-making at the local level in order to create a more sustainable public sector. To do this, this article focuses on an analysis of the “Gipuzkoa Lab”, a public innovation lab developed in the Gipuzkoa region located in the Basque Country, Spain, in order to confront future socio-economic challenges via an open participatory approach. An analysis of a pilot project to address worker participation, developed within this participatory process, indicates that these collaborative spaces have important implications for the formulation of public policies and can change public actions, yielding benefits and engaging citizens, workers, private companies and academics. This paper provides a contemporary approach to understanding good practice in collaborative governance and a novel process for facilitating the balance between the state and civil society, and between public functions and the private sphere, for decision-making. In particular, this case study may be of interest to international practitioners and researchers to introduce the increasingly popular concept of public sector innovation labs into debates of citizen participation and decision-making.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited