Machinery of Government Reforms in New Zealand

continuous improvement or hyper-innovation?


  • Flavia Donadelli
  • Martin Lodge


administrative reforms, New Zealand, hyper-innovation, State Sector Act, incrementalism


This article assesses the reasons for frequent national-level administrative reforms in New Zealand and reflects on their potential consequences. It explores three potential reasons: the particularities of Wellington as a highly conducive place for ideas to be shared between decision makers and academics; the characteristics of New Zealand institutions; and the effects of innovations themselves as drivers of disappointment and more innovation. The article reflects on reforms as drivers of continuous and incremental improvements as opposed to a hyper-innovative, politically driven administrative system. It concludes by stressing the importance of incorporating experiences ‘from the bottom’ in reform processes, and reliance on reflective mechanisms capable of creating opportunities for incremental, piecemeal and often ‘inelegant’ administrative adjustments.


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