Democratic innovation: the case of Milan’s Area C


  • Patrizio Monfardini University of Cagliari
  • Pasquale Ruggiero University of Siena and Brighton Business School


Can an innovation in public sector be also respectful of the will of the citizens? While public managers are asked by NPM-led reforms to become more entrepreneurial and risk-takers, several scholars are concerned with the discretionary power awarded to managers being detrimental to democracy.

This paper investigates the case of Area C in the city of Milan, an innovation in transport policy, through both a document analysis and interviews conducted with top managers involved in the innovation design and implementation and politicians adopting the «Harvard Kennedy School’s Innovations in Government Award Programs Semi-finalists’ Questionnaire» as a frame of reference.

Results show that innovation is achieving relevant results in reducing both pollution and traffic congestion while increasing the average speed of public transport. Such achievements have been reached through a long process of consensus building, started including such policies in the electoral program, and persuading citizens about the necessity and usefulness of the initiative. Difficulties regard the necessity of a continuous involvement of citizens and the oppositions of some economic associations worried that Area C could damage their own businesses.

Author Biographies

Patrizio Monfardini, University of Cagliari

Associate Professor in Business Administration at the Dept of Economics and Business Science

Pasquale Ruggiero, University of Siena and Brighton Business School

Associate Professor in business administration at the University of Siena and Senior Lecturer in Accounting at the Brighton Business School




How to Cite

Monfardini, P., & Ruggiero, P. (2019). Democratic innovation: the case of Milan’s Area C. International Public Management Review, 19(1), 4–17. Retrieved from