Working paper

Dynamic capabilities in the public sector: the case of the UK’s Government Digital Service

Digital platforms Public sector innovation Public service United Kingdom

This study explores the concept of dynamic capabilities in the public sector. Using the UK’s Government Digital Service (GDS) as a case study, the authors demonstrate how such capabilities form and how they evolve over time. Drawing on expert interviews with former and current employees, it is argued that GDS’s success was based on introducing new ways of working and providing value in government. Through successfully professionalising such new skills and notions of value across government, GDS eventually undermined its own dynamic capabilities. Drawing on findings, it is shown that dynamic capabilities are systemic resources and abilities to question existing routines and capacities. In conclusion, dynamic capabilities need periodic renewal and nurturing as they are constantly being absorbed into existing routines.

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WP 2021/01