Measuring Innovation in the Public Sector: a literature review

International Developments

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International Developments

1. South Korea

The Government Innovation Index (GII) was developed by the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, South Korea in the mid 2000s. This tool was designed to gauge the level of innovation of organisations in the Korean public sector by determining how well an organisation innovates amidst changing environments. It helps organizations to diagnose levels of innovation, identify weak areas, and develop action plans to fortify their innovation capacities. On a government level, the overall results of the index can serve as a reference for national innovation strategies.

The GII is applicable to all public sector organisations, scientifically measures various signs and evidence of innovation in an organisation, clearly states to which stage of innovation the results refer; and provides analytical results comparable to private organisations and other countries.

The GII was developed through a staged process:

  1. Review theory and benchmarking

  2. Develop first draft

  3. Review by experts

  4. Hold workshops for innovation staff

  5. Pilot test

  6. Final review of the GII model

  7. Develop web-basedd survey and reporting system for the GII

  8. Conduct diagnosis (498 government agencies)

  9. Analysis and reporting

  10. Report result to President

  11. Notify the results to agencies surveyed.

The GII is a weighted average of many sub-indices. It is divided into innovation activation levels which accurately diagnose the current level and results of innovation.

Innovation activation Index

Innovation activities per area

Innovation Leadership (L)

Vision & Strategies (V)

Personnel Capacity (C)

Systemisation of management (M)

Innovation adoption – implementation (I)

Innovation results

The GII assesses other components indirectly: Foundation Readiness for Innovation; Innovation Activity Alignment; and Innovation Internalisation are calculated from the components of the Innovation activation index.

The results for each organisation are summarised as innovation stages between 1 and 5. Scores and explanations for each stage are also presented.


Innovation Stage Trait

Attitude of Personnel toward Innovation

Characteristic of Innovation Activities

Stage 1: Innovation Preparation

Foundation for innovation is underdeveloped

Apathetic or unreceptive to innovation efforts

Innovation efforts are almost non-existent

Stage 2: Innovation Ignition

Need for innovation recognised but only partial innovation activities implemented

Innovation efforts are substantial enough to be reviewed

Stage 3: Innovation Implementation

Various innovation activities carried out sporadically under the guidance of a leader of project team

The organisation leader or innovation team leads and the organisation members follow

Participation or guidance of organisation chief increases

Stage 4: Innovation Proliferation

Institutionalisation of various innovation activities

Organisation members recognise need for innovation and positive results begin to be realised

Innovation activities are balanced and maintained in various areas

Stage 5: Innovation Establishment

Internationalisation and systematisation of innovation

Active participation from organisation members and benefits of innovation are felt and internalised

Data is gathered online through a web-based diagnostic system which facilitates data accumulation and statistical analysis. When innovation officials from each organisation respond to questions within the GII, the index values for each area and the overall index values are automatically calculated. Answers are mainly based on factual data collected from many departments.3

One person in charge of innovation in a surveyed organisation completes the questionnaire. Two other randomly selected government officials of the organisation are then asked questions for simple factual verification. These officials were chosen at random and the data obtained through telephone interview.

In the first half of 2005, the Korean Government Innovation Headquarters conducted diagnoses of 496 public institutions. The results are shown below.


Stage 1

Stage 2

Stage 3

Stage 4

Stage 5

Total number of organisations (496)

86 (17.3%)

231 (46.6%)

105 (21.2%)

65 (13.1%)

9 (1.8%)

Central government (48)


1 (2.1%)

11 (22.8%)

27 (56.3%)

9 (18.8%)

Local government (250)

27 (10.8%)

107 (42.8%)

81 (32.4%)

35 (14.0%)


Local offices of education (198)

59 (29.8%)

123 (62.1%)

13 (6.6%)

3 (1.5%)


Based on these results, innovation strategies appropriate to the innovation levels and characteristics were recommended and implemented. A government-wide comparison was also conducted. The GII therefore progressed from an evaluation tool to a tool which improves innovation efforts.

The GII allows benchmarking between private and public sectors organisations. It can be used to review an agency’s innovation performance or perform analysis of a specific area for a group of agencies. It can also compare innovation characteristics and innovation levels of different countries by conducting a joint review with other countries.

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