A lasting legacy? Sustaining innovation in a social work context

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The current agenda for change in the public sector challenges organisations to operate differently. Alongside managing severe cutbacks in investment, the UK social work sector faces a period of unprecedented change aimed at raising standards and improving practice whilst demonstrating value for money. Resulting in such a significant reform agenda and set within a climate of austerity, the UK government can be heard to call upon ‘innovation’ as the solution to achieving ‘more for less’ during such testing times. Whilst there is a body of literature examining the process of managing innovation, there remains an absence of knowledge relating to the tail end of the process concerned with moving from piloting to achieving sustainability. Drawing upon case examples of innovation in practice, this paper is unique in applying this literature to a social work setting. It sets out what is meant by innovation, what we know about diffusion and managing innovation, and presents a new framework that can be applied to assist with improving the process of replication in order to support sustainability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-152
Number of pages15
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2013


  • innovation
  • sustainability
  • scaling up
  • piloting
  • diffusion


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