The Center for Urban Innovation is a collection of scholars engaged in cutting edge applied research designed to help practitioners and public officials pursue new solutions to challenges facing communities.
These scholars integrate undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral scholars into the development of these policy alternatives through inventive curricular activities and active community outreach. The Center is the hub of urban innovation scholars at ASU and other academic partner institutions.
While communities face a wide array of challenges and opportunities, the Center pursues four major themes in its work.
- The Center examines the nature of innovation in local governments and the processes of diffusion of innovation across the local government sector. The Center identifies new practices, examines patterns of adoption by local governments, and investigates the factors related to innovation. It is developing new approaches to training designed to promote innovation in local government organizations.
- The Center is interested in local government change and emerging approaches to establishing and carrying out social goals. A key factor that shapes the work of local government is the formal structure of government. Unlike most countries, the United States uses two major constitutional models for organizing local government reflected in different forms of government. Research is being conducted on the changing distribution in the use of these forms and their relationship to governmental innovation and other aspects of performance. In addition to the interest in formal structure within individual governments, the Center examines “new governance” that involves increased interaction across governmental jurisdictions and national boundaries, joint activities between the public, nonprofit, and business sectors, and expanded engagement of citizens in policy making and service delivery.
- The Center is interested in alternative approaches to leadership by elected officials and administrators. Leadership is central to the process of innovation, and research on individual behavior complements the interest in institutions. The research demonstrates that different models of leadership are appropriate for different governmental structures as well as for traditional versus emerging institutional arrangements.
- The Center is concerned with public values and value propositions as expressed in local governments. The normative implications of local government change are a focus, and projects explore topics related to ethics and social equity. There is a special interest in sustainability both as an example of governmental innovation and also as a newly emerging normative commitment of local governments.