In 2006, the Innovation Groups (Alliance for Innovation), ICMA and Arizona State University, partnered to transform local government by accelerating the development and dissemination of innovations. Capitalizing on the strengths of each of its components, the Alliance launched with a vision to become the premier force for innovation in local governance.
The Alliance was charged with identifying how "state of the art" approaches could influence the "state of the practice" and ultimately become more widely adopted beyond Alliance members. The overarching purpose was to develop a new kind of research to accelerate and support the wider adoption of promising new practices that most local governments are not yet using.
Research on the diffusion of innovation shows a majority of governments are willing to accept change that is demonstrated to be effective. Impediments to change are lessened if the costs of learning about and implementing the new approaches are reduced by effective training and technical assistance once strategies have been demonstrated to have application. Through the global reach of ICMA, the Alliance intended to address this challenge -- to provide broader dissemination of innovations beyond Alliance members to reach those local governments who are not the "early innovators" yet may be inclined to make changes to be more effective in their service delivery.
While positive work has been accomplished toward this goal, the research and program development to convert emerging practices in leading practices were never adequately funded. The lack of resources, staff/faculty turnover, and the deep and lingering fiscal crisis never allowed this new research effort to begin nor the dissemination pipeline to be built as robustly as it was originally envisioned.
To fulfill its intended purpose, the Alliance for Innovation, in collaboration with ICMA's Center for Management Strategies created a framework to disseminate new leading practices to local governments. The result of this framework is the Enhanced Research Partnership.
As the Enhanced Research Partnership has grown, research on these leading practices has been developed and can be found on the Alliance website. View one of the early results focused on Collaborative Services here.