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The innovation concept in the Public Sector
Mälardalen University, School of Health, Care and Social Welfare. (Health and Welfare in Multicultural Working Life)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8045-797X
(English)In: Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice, ISSN 1447-9338Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

This study explores the concept of innovation and its use in today´s Swedish public sector. Based on interviews and critical discourse analysis it is demonstrated that the social practice of New Public Management, NPM, was highly visible on the governmental level. Rhetoric from the 80´s was used for the challenges of the future, despite the fact that research indicates that NPM has not led to increasing innovation. NPM rhetoric was less noticeable at the local government level than at the national.

The results suggest that the concept of innovation may be understood and used very differently. It may be used internally to promote change and effectiveness in a competitive society. It may also be used as the manifestation of the hegemony of certain values and beliefs. From the interviews, it was also clear that the interpretation varied. When we interpret and study public sector innovation, we should be cognizant of these differences. 

Keyword [en]
Critical discourse analysis, innovation, public sector, policy, government
National Category
Work Sciences
Research subject
Working Life Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-25881OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mdh-25881DiVA: diva2:744204
Available from: 2014-09-07 Created: 2014-09-07 Last updated: 2014-12-08Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Innovation in Municipal Welfare Services
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Innovation in Municipal Welfare Services
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis investigates, analyzes and discusses innovation efforts and the use and understanding of the innovation concept and related policies in municipal welfare services. There are two main themes in the study, policy and practice. It is based on interviews with employees and managers in four Swedish municipalities. Also, an analysis of related policy documents on both a national and local level was done. Methods used were document analysis, thematic analysis and critical discourse analysis.

The results indicate differences between management levels in the view of innovation and what was achieved. Senior managers stressed the importance of innovation, but experienced obstacles in the form of old structures, ways of working, and employees lack of time for innovation. Employee innovations achieved were accordingly not acknowledged.

Middle managers and employees experienced opportunities for employee-driven innovation (EDI). However, barriers such as time and lack of internal communication existed. The study suggests that an excessive control, insufficient empowerment and limited autonomy for employees may be of hindrance for innovation.

Local authorities stressed the importance of innovation in strategic documents, but the dynamic resources of the municipalities were not used to support and develop innovation.

Innovation procurement was prominent in central governmental policies, but concrete elements were otherwise missing. The documents were also influenced by New Public Management, for example on control and efficiency.

Research on welfare services innovation is limited. The study contributes with an understanding of the challenges management meet and knowledge of what barriers and opportunities employees experience for their taking part in innovation. It also raises several fundamental questions about innovation in welfare services, such as if a different approach to innovation in welfare services may be needed as compared to other sectors or if innovation is less important in this context.

This study develops welfare sector innovation research, from empirical knowledge to concept development and a better understanding of the conditions for innovation in welfare services. Further research is needed, addressing the question how innovation, if at all, ought to be managed within the context of welfare services.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Västerås: Mälardalen University, 2014
Series
Mälardalen University Press Dissertations, ISSN 1651-4238 ; 164
National Category
Work Sciences
Research subject
Working Life Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-25883 (URN)978-91-7485-162-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-11-19, Paros, Mälardalens högskola, Västerås, 13:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-09-09 Created: 2014-09-07 Last updated: 2014-12-08Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
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  • Other style
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Language
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  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
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