Tallinn University of Technology

This weekend, Steven Nõmmik, PhD student at the Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance, was awarded the Best Graduate Student Paper Award at the The Network of Institutes and Schools of Public Administration in Central and Eastern Europe (NISPAcee) annual conference in Slovenia. He received the recognition for his paper “Cross-organisational collaboration management of digital innovation in the public sector – the case of the Estonian Employment Register”, while also being the first student of TalTech to have received this award.

Steven Nõmmik

Nõmmik, who earned a BA in Public Administration and Governance and a MA in Technology Governance and Digital Transformation, studied in his awarded paper the relevant factors surrounding cross-organisational collaboration management within the public sector. Following a systematisation of the factors based on a literature review he tested them in the case of the Estonian national Employment Register to create new insight regarding the relevance of the different factors as well as the connections between them.

“Organisational boundaries are becoming increasingly blurry with the continuous digitalisation through new interaction patterns. As a result, cross-organisational collaborations have become more relevant, both across sectors and within the public sector, creating the need to better understand the important factors for management and their interrelations” says Steven Nõmmik, PhD student / junior research fellow at Nurkse Department.

The paper approached researching collaboration through 3 main factors - system conditions; process challenges and management interventions. Besides focusing on each individual factor, he also studied the connections between them to create new insight regarding the creation and maintenance of collaborations for digital innovation.

 “The findings reflected, how the management measures influenced by the pre-established informal connections can provide initial benefits in bringing stakeholders and their respective ideas together. However, over the course of the collaboration it may become a challenge due to new stakeholders lacking access to similar connections and personnel turnover resulting in loss of the already existing connections,” states Nõmmik.

He adds that the ability of managers to direct collaboration through a combination of coordination, authority and the specific problems of combining technological capabilities, creates conditions for the development of digital solutions as well as move it beyond its initial intended role. “In addition, the motivation of stakeholders through empowerment and limiting burden enables to maintain commitment as well as limit participation fatigue, creating the conditions for long-term participation,” says Nõmmik.

The paper forms a part of Nõmmik’s doctoral studies, where he examines how public administrations are transformed in the digital era to enhance collaboration in service delivery, advancing the participation of public, private and societal actors. This includes a study of the dynamics shaping the transformation itself as well as the effects from the transformation. His awarded paper as well as PhD studies are supervised by professor Tiina Randma-Liiv and senior research fellow Dr. Veiko Lember.

The mission of the The Network of Institutes and Schools of Public Administration in Central and Eastern Europe (NISPAcee) is to promote and strengthen effective and democratic governance and modernization of public administration and policy throughout the NISPAcee region. Since 2005 the association has recognized the best graduate student who demonstrates the ability to produce a high quality research paper presented during the NISPAcee Annual Conference. The winner is presented with a certificate and the paper is published in a NISPAcee publication.