The Assessment of Behavioural Attributes and Mind-set of Participants in Government Workforce Innovation and Entrepreneurship Programs: A Feasibility Study

Published on August 21, 2018


The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the feasibility of, and preliminary outcomes from, a behavioural assessment of participants in two innovation and entrepreneurship programs sponsored by a large United States federal government agency. This study used a commercially available behavioural testing platform designed for entrepreneurship teaching experiences. Individuals’ entrepreneurial tendencies were assessed before and after participating in a government innovation program. This study observed noticeable and trackable changes in behavioural measures between pre- and post-assessments in relation to innovation program participation. Participants’ pre- and post-program entrepreneurship characteristics closely aligned with those of successful entrepreneurs recruited into government service. Performance at program completion was concordant with the assessment tool and significantly correlated to an external population of successful entrepreneurs, regarding innovation-related characteristics. This study shows that conducting systematic assessments of employee attitudes about innovation programs is useful and can produce actionable information. The study method and findings are novel regarding measuring changes in behavioural attitudes and characteristics of participants in government innovation programs. The findings support the notion that the integration of tools to assess behavioural indicators of entrepreneurial attitudes toward government innovation appears useful, especially for augmenting employee or organizational needs or leveraging the expressed interests of employees as innovators.


Richard Aragon

Richard Aragon, Ph.D., is chief of the Office of Program Planning, Analysis, and Evaluation at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences at the National Institutes of Health. In this role he advises on the Institute’s strategic planning activities, analyzes and evaluates its research and training programs, and serves as its legislative liaison. Prior to joining NIGMS, Richard held two positions in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources within the Office of the HHS Secretary: directing the Division of Program Integrity Assessment, Integration, and Oversight and the Division of Outreach, Communications, and Training. His responsibilities included spearheading implementation of the Secretary’s Initiative on Program Integrity and establishing the agency’s first enterprise risk management framework.

Kevin McTigue

Kevin McTigue is a professional strategy consultant at the HHS Office of the Chief Technology Officer. Kevin is currently the Director for the HHS IDEA Lab at HHS encompassing a range of innovation programming including; the national flagship corporate innovation program for the United States Department of Health and Human Services encompasses a staff of 79,000 professionals. Kevin previously served at the National Cancer Institute, NIH, where he entered government service as a Presidential Management Fellow. Prior to his role at NCI, Kevin worked on a start-up focused on pancreatic cancer and as a high-school chemistry teacher.

Will Yang

Will Yang is an innovation and design strategist at the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. As co-founder and Program Manager of the HHS IDEA Lab and the HHS Ignite Accelerator, he is a methodological lead and advocate for human-centered design, entrepreneurship, and innovation coaching.

Jamie Elliott

Jamie Elliott is the Chief Science Officer of Innovation Horizons, LLC. His focus lies in innovative and analytic ways of solving today’s healthcare problems.

Before joining Innovation Horizons, Jamie was a leader in analytics, software development, and project management at the Health Resources and Services Administration. Jamie led major projects in business process improvement, and served as an innovation coach and mentor for others trying to improve government operations.

Greg Downing

Gregory Downing, D.O., Ph.D. is the Founder of Innovation Horizons, LLC, a consulting practice with an emphasis on innovation and technology adaptation in health care.

Previously, he was the Founding Executive Director for Innovation in the Immediate Office of the Secretary at the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In this position, his primary responsibilities were focused on the promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship as valued attributes of workforce engagement across HHS.

Prior to his arrival at HHS in 2006, Dr. Downing served at the National Institutes of Health since 1993 in research, policy, and program management roles. Dr. Downing earned his medical degree from Michigan State University and his Ph.D. in pharmacology from the University of Kansas.

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