I’m writing a paper about the effect of populist government on public sector innovation, which I will be presenting as a conference keynote in Norway in November. I’m focusing primarily on the Trump Administration. By populism I mean an ideology encompassing both xenophobia (towards people, goods, and international institutions) and anti-elitism towards the intellectual elite, especially their use of science and evidence-based analysis.
I expect that Trumpian populism is affecting public sector innovation in five ways.
- Savage budget cuts force agencies to focus on their core mission and remove resources that could be used to support innovation
- It is curtailing the government’s role in the collection of scientific and socio-economic data, especially when such data would conflict with its ideology (for example climate-change data)
- It refuses to use evidence-based policy inquiry, preferring its own alternative sources and facts
- Blaming and shaming public servants, even Trump’s own cabinet, discourages all public servants from accepting the risks that come with innovation.
- It resists international collaboration, which is an important source of innovation.
I am looking for (unattributed) practitioner or academic informants who could provide me with evidence that either does or does not support these expectations.