City Hall - Vincent Harris Room
Time Slot: 
Monday 30th March 09:30 - 11:00
Panel Chair: 
  • Dr Thomas Oliver (University of the West of England)
Panel Members: 
  • Professor Colin Copus (De Montfort University)
  • Mr Neil Barnett (Leeds Beckett University)
  • Mr Tim Cheetham (De Montfort University)
  • Emeritus Professor James (Jim) Chandler (Sheffield Hallam University)

Most studies of innovation in local government focus on managerial and administrative processes (Osborne, 1998, Borrins, 2001, Newman et al, 2001, Andrews, et al, 2003). By comparison how councillors innovate politically has been given less attention but understanding local political innovation (see, Leighton and Lopez, 2013) has become more important given austerity as a dominant feature of the political landscape and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. The effectiveness of councillors’ responses to the pressures for reductions in public provision at a time of growing demand will depend on the strategies they develop in a situation where they must wield influence rather than power over a range of external organisations in complex governance networks (Egner, et al, 2013). To be effective in shaping and directing governance networks councillors must act in new ways which help overcome the political, legal and constitutional limitations on their office. The panel will explore and develop the concept of political innovation by councillors to explain how they develop imaginative approaches and structures to deal with a range of complex social, economic, financial and political problems. Papers will address the following questions: • What strategies do councillors develop to energise political action and change within their communities? • How to the legal and constitutional limitations on councillors energise or hinder political innovation? • To what extent do the ambiguities, tensions and paradoxes inherent in councillors’ roles shape the potential to innovate politically? • How can the concept of political innovation be developed and theorised?