DOI: 10.1111/1467-8500.12619 ISSN: 0313-6647

Public sector innovation for sustainable development goals: A comparative study of innovation types in Thailand and Korea

Chutima Suchitwarasan, Emre Cinar, Chris Simms, Jae‐Yeon Kim
  • Public Administration
  • Sociology and Political Science


The aim of this paper is to compare the focus (strategy, capacity, and operation) and locus (internal and external) of innovation types of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)‐oriented public sector innovation (PSI) in Thailand and Korea and to contribute to the limited understanding of the role of national context in PSI. Our study analysed 263 SDGs‐oriented innovations based on the new typology proposed by Chen et al. The findings identified that the orientation of SDGs‐oriented PSI is more external and policy innovation is the most common type in both countries. These distributions, however, vary depending on the contextual differences in administrative and technological contexts, resulting in SDGs‐oriented PSI in Korea emphasised on strategy focus, whereas Thailand emphasised capacity focus. This also demonstrates a temporality between strategy, capacity, and operations foci in Korea, but Thailand attempted to fill the capacity gap through SDGs‐oriented innovation. Insights from this empirical study can assist public managers in selecting innovation portfolio configurations applicable to their national context.

Points for practitioners

In executing public sector innovation, public sector organisations (PSOs) should consider the innovation focus (strategy, capacity, and operation) and the innovation locus (internal and external).

For SDGs‐oriented innovation, mission and policy innovation should introduce the necessary strategies in the public services before capacity and operation focus.

Public managers and practitioners should adopt an innovation portfolio approach to develop and introduce a variety of innovation types.

Public managers should consider their national context to select the configuration of their innovation portfolios.

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