BTW, Speaking about justice…

Innovation: A question of ideology?

Posted on: April 25, 2010

April, is a time when buds begin to open. Not just in the natural world, the social world will also be coloured with budding ideas from young minds. At the end of this month, I will have the honour to sit among brilliant thinkers at the Chevening Scholars‘ Forum in Bath.

The main theme for this year is innovation. Yes, it is a word we hear all the time in both public and private realms, sometimes without fully fathoming what it really means.

Jump-starting the forum will be scholars’ presentations on:

  • “The Innovation Nation” – bridging the gap between university, industry and government.
  • “Low Carbon Society”
  • “Budget Transparency and Fiscal Performance of Government”
  • “Surviving Economic Crisis in Least Developing Countries: How Indonesia Protects The Poor”
  • “Cuts to Educative Budget in The UK and the Role of International Students”

As you can see from the lineup, the forum will discuss contemporary challenges, innovative ideas to keep up with demands, creation of social change, science and technology in the society, and how education is reshaped to meet future needs.

Having to lead two of the barcamps at the event, in all modesty I started thinking: how do we keep up with challenges?

Innovation in public service seem to be defined as moving towards market-based strategies to achieve their purposes. Less bureaucracy, more attention on targets, customer feedback, competition between providers… devolution of decision making, etc. Everything is about increasing value, for the provider, for the government, for the public, for you and me. Everything is about productivity or has a cascading effect to higher productivity elsewhere. Everything is about efficiency, effectiveness and output.

Does this mean that market ideology have won the battle? That even if states have a role in governing relations, at the heart of state’s activity is market orientation?

Is this how we define justice today? That a just society is a society where people can be as productive as they can, and if they’re not (be it by choice or by circumstance), they are the outliers?

A huge number of movements and academic discussions talk about innovation, innovation, innovation, especially when it comes to alleviating poverty and better public service delivery.¬†Poverty is not right. Almost everybody would agree to that in a blink of an eye. But WHY is it not right? Is it because they cannot produce? Is it because if poverty prevails, it means innovation doesn’t work, and therefore there is no output in any of the supposedly innovative process?

Innovation is good, at least that’s what the general consensus is. I just find it amusing that behind the idea of innovation is an orientation to produce, and somehow I feel that it is an unspoken recognition to a market-based ideology.

What do you think?


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Lishia Erza

Searching for answers about life, these are the ones I have found.

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