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Innovation policy for welfare services in a Swedish context
Mälardalen University, School of Health, Care and Social Welfare, Health and Welfare.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8045-797X
Mälardalen University, School of Health, Care and Social Welfare, Health and Welfare.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0282-2820
Mälardalen University, School of Business, Society and Engineering, Industrial Economics and Organisation. (IEO)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6823-4925
2013 (English)In: Offentlig Förvaltning. Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration, ISSN 2000-8058, E-ISSN 2001-3310, Vol. 16, no 4, 27-48 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of the study is to explore the role of public welfare services expressed in theSwedish government’s innovation policy. The focus is on municipal and county services,such as education and health care. The study is based on an analysis of 55 documentsproduced by the government and its agencies. Although innovation policy is a major issue in Sweden, and Sweden has a large public sector, research on innovation within this fieldis very limited. The results show that the municipality and county services are visible ininnovation policy when they are a driving force for innovation in the private sector. Thisapplies especially when public procurement becomes a vehicle for business innovation.Innovation is not used as a concept representing radical change and general progress ofthe public sector as such. When municipal welfare services become visible in the studieddocuments, there are often references to a need for efficiency improvements and forprocurement leading to innovation. For the public sector, including local welfare services, no coherent innovation policy is present, but this study found elements that could becomepart of an innovation policy. Policy development is important for the future, consideringthe public sector´s role in the important and increasing service sector and in the society as a whole.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 16, no 4, 27-48 p.
National Category
Work Sciences
Research subject
Working Life Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-23413OAI: diva2:677821
Available from: 2013-12-10 Created: 2013-12-10 Last updated: 2016-06-28Bibliographically 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
Mälardalen University Press Dissertations, ISSN 1651-4238 ; 164
National Category
Work Sciences
Research subject
Working Life Studies
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)
Available from: 2014-09-09 Created: 2014-09-07 Last updated: 2014-12-08Bibliographically approved

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