HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Albert J. Weatherhead III and Richard W. Weatherhead Professor of Public Management, Emeritus


Bureaucracies create rules and routines that are an important source of organizational capabilities. But these rules and routines also, for a number of reasons, become difficult to change and inhibit organizational innovation. We discuss how an organization in Denver local government, Peak Academy, encourages frontline civil servants to develop innovations. We present the background and content of innovations that have been developed and present an account of how bureaucracies can be innovative, and of what distinguishes innovations by bureaucracies. Many of the innovations we observed are mundane process innovations rather than more dramatic changes in features of programs. We call these “microinnovations.” We urge scholars interested in government innovation to give more attention to such innovations, which have hitherto been ignored in the literature.


Kelman, Steven. "Bureaucracies as Innovative Organizations." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP21-017, June 2021.