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Abstract

Increasingly, public sector executives are using ad hoc groups and processes—what we term “parallel processes”—as a vehicle for innovation. The central question is, however, when parallel processes are developmental and when they are bypasses that avoid critical issues. This paper reviews some potential weaknesses in the use of such groups by examining several cases that show how they can impede the actual implementation of the innovation. We propose a transitional perspective that regards parallel process as scaffolding, enabling new ideas and behaviors to grow strong enough to eventually allow their transfer to the permanent structure.