Described as units developing public policies in a design-oriented manner, Policy Labs are tasked to innovate to gain in policy effectiveness and efficiency. However, as public policymaking is a context-dependent activity, the way in which these novel organisations operate significantly differs. This study discusses the emergence of design approaches for policy innovation. The purpose is to map how Policy Labs in Europe introduce design approaches at distinct stages of the policymaking cycle. For this study, 30 organisations in Europe operating at various levels of government were surveyed. Based on the public policymaking process model, it investigates which design methods are Policy Labs deploying to innovate public policies. The study exposed a gap in the awareness of the utilised methods‘ nature. It also showed that the use of design methods is of less importance than the introduction of design mindsets for public policy innovation, namely ‘user-centredness’, ‘co-creation’, and ‘exploration’.

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