Exploring innovation in the department of correctional services : a complex adaptive systems approach.
This study used a complex adaptive systems approach to explore innovations geared towards the rehabilitation of offenders in the Department of Correctional Services. It examined how innovations came about in view of the complex adaptive nature of the department, which is defined as a complex system with agents having various schema and mental models. It used complex adaptive systems approach as a lens through which to view the emergence of correctional innovations. This was achieved through a multi-methodical qualitative research approach to data collection, using interviews and documentary data to unpack public sector innovation, with the Correctional Services‟ Service Delivery Improvement directorate as a unit of analysis. This study further explored the compatibility of the five bedrock principles of a complex adaptive system and how such principles have shaped the emergence of innovations in a public sector organization where all innovative efforts are geared towards the improvement of service delivery as opposed to profit-making for competitive advantage, as is often the case with the profit-making sectors. In view of the dynamic and nonlinearity nature of organizational systems, the use of a complex adaptive systems perspective provided this study with a pivotal tool to analyse innovation as an emergent property of a complex adaptive system rather than as a carefully planned organizational element emanating from either strategic planning or research and development initiatives of an organization. This is further strengthened by the lack of employment of complexity science in public sector organizations like Correctional Services in particular. The study sought to achieve ground-breaking work in using complex adaptive systems perspective in innovation within the Department of Correctional Services, a terrain that has not been ventured into before. It was seen to be of crucial significance to explore innovation using complex adaptive systems and to adopt a paradigm that was initially designed for the natural sciences, and has been adopted by profit-making organizations and cascaded to the non-profit making sector as represented by the Department Correctional Services.