Designing environments for experimentation, learning and innovation in public policy and governance

Maurits Waardenburg*, Martijn Groenleer, Jorrit De Jong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


There has been much debate about the contribution of 'design thinking' to the fields of public policy and governance. This article makes an empirical contribution to this debate by examining the Organised Crime Field Lab - an environment for experimenting with, learning about and innovating in collaborative governance. The study involved working with 18 different multi-agency collaborations involving over 160 professionals as they developed novel approaches to fighting organised crime. Combining quasi-experimental and action research methods, our analysis offers valuable insights into how an environment can be designed that creates the conditions to support collaborations in overcoming the most common challenges in their design process. In particular, we find that a specially designed environment including a structured but flexible problem-solving space, an inclusive facilitative process and a custom-made accountability structure can support collaborative design processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7640
Pages (from-to)67-87
Number of pages21
JournalPolicy and Politics: Studies of local government and its services
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • collaborative governance
  • design science
  • public policy
  • action research
  • multi-agency collaboration
  • policy labs
  • public innovation
  • policy innovation


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