This article synthesizes the extensive literature on the diffusion and adoption of public sector innovations. Although various subfields within public administration have studied diffusion and adoption, these have tended to develop relatively independently. Hence, the lessons learnt in one area might not be evident elsewhere. We have therefore conducted a meta-synthesis of the literature and connected research in three subfields: public management, public policy, and e-government. We show that there is indeed little overlap between the fields with each relying on their own models and paradigms. Furthermore, they often fail to define the concepts of diffusion and adoption. In terms of antecedents, public management and public policy scholars mainly focus on the macro-institutional environment, whereas e-government scholars show a greater interest in the individual level. Based on our meta-synthesis, we develop an integrated list of important antecedents of public sector innovation diffusion and adoption. We also propose three lines for future research: (1) combine macro-, meso-, and micro-level approaches to develop a more nuanced and context-dependent understanding of diffusion and adoption; (2) clearly distinguish between innovation generation, innovation diffusion, and innovation adoption; and (3) draw more extensively on open innovation and collaborative innovation concepts given the crucial role of end-users in innovation diffusion and adoption.
Perspectives on Public Management and Governance
Department of Public Administration and Sociology (DPAS)

de vries, H, Tummers, L., & Bekkers, V. (2018). The diffusion and adoption of public sector innovations: a meta-synthesis of the literature. Perspectives on Public Management and Governance, 1(3), 159–176. Retrieved from