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Employee-driven innovation in the public sector: At the intersection of innovation support and workplace conditions
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Education and Sociology. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7046-8774
2023 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Medarbetardriven innovation i offentlig sektor : Mellan innovationsstöd och förutsättningar på arbetsplatsen (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

The overall aim of this thesis is to contribute knowledge about employee-driven innovation (EDI), with a particular focus on conditions in the workplace when innovation support is introduced in municipal contexts. The thesis is based on 23 qualitative interviews with managers, employees, and innovation coaches from three municipal sites in Sweden where innovation support has been implemented. The four included studies examine how innovation support is set up, what role first-line managers play, what drives employees to engage in EDI, and the outcomes of innovation work in the studied cases.

The thesis’ results show how innovation support was set up as parallel structures operating independently from regular municipal operations, which made it difficult for employees and managers to connect and integrate innovation work with everyday work. Furthermore, the results show how the studied municipalities did not define clear objectives for working with innovation, which in turn resulted in a multitude of inextricably linked negative effects for the innovation support operations, the managers, the employees, and the outcome of the innovation work. In addition, the study results demonstrate the importance of providing rich environments for learning and innovation in the workplace, to consider and support employee engagement in public sector innovation and to support the entire innovation process, including the implementation phase.   

The first conclusion drawn is that employee-driven innovation work happens at the intersection of innovation support and current workplace conditions. This implies that support measures need to be integrated into employees’ everyday work to create favourable conditions for EDI. The second conclusion is that it is imperative for municipal organisations intending to support EDI to define objectives for working with innovation and to anchor and communicate these objectives throughout the organisation. 

Abstract [sv]

Det övergripande syftet med denna avhandling är att bidra med kunskap om medarbetardriven innovation (EDI) med särskilt fokus på förutsättningarna för innovation på arbetsplatsen när innovationsstöd införs i kommunala sammanhang. Empirin baseras på 23 kvalitativa intervjuer med chefer, medarbetare och innovationscoacher från tre platser i Sverige där innovationsstöd har införts i den kommunala verksamheten.   

Resultaten visar att innovationsstödet sattes upp som en parallell struktur som verkade oberoende av den ordinarie kommunala verksamheten, vilket gjorde det svårt för medarbetare och chefer att integrera innovationsarbetet i det dagliga arbetet. Vidare visar resultaten att det saknades tydligt definierade mål för att arbeta med innovation. Detta resulterade i en mängd negativa effekter för innovationsstödsverksamheten, cheferna, medarbetarna och utfallet av innovationsarbetet på arbetsplatsnivå. Detta indikerar vikten av att tillhandahålla goda miljöer för lärande och innovation på arbetsplatsen, att beakta och stödja medarbetarnas engagemang i innovationsarbete och att stödja hela innovationsprocessen, inklusive implementeringsfasen.  

I avhandlingen dras två slutsatser. Den första slutsatsen är att medarbetardrivet innovationsarbete sker i skärningspunkten mellan tillhandahållet innovationsstöd och nuvarande arbetsplatsförhållanden. Detta innebär att stödåtgärder behöver integreras med medarbetarnas dagliga arbete för att skapa goda förutsättningar för EDI. Den andra slutsatsen är att för att stödja EDI är det av vikt att kommunala organisationer definierar mål för arbetet med innovation och att förankra och kommunicera dessa mål i hela organisationen.   

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2023. , p. 112
Series
Linköping Studies in Arts and Sciences, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 852Linköping Studies in Behavioural Science, ISSN 1654-2029 ; 251
Keywords [en]
Employee-driven innovation, Innovation support, Public sector innovation, Municipalities, Workplace conditions, Innovation capacity
Keywords [sv]
Medarbetardriven innovation, Innovationsstöd, Innovation i offentlig sektor, Kommuner, Förutsättningar på arbetsplatsen, Innovationsförmåga
National Category
Work Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-192569DOI: 10.3384/9789180750967ISBN: 9789180750950 (print)ISBN: 9789180750967 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-192569DiVA, id: diva2:1745152
Public defence
2023-05-05, TEMCAS, T-Building, Campus Valla, Linköping, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2023-03-22 Created: 2023-03-22 Last updated: 2023-11-10Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Innovation Support in Swedish Municipalities: Challenges on the Way to Increased Innovation Capacity in Public Organisations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Innovation Support in Swedish Municipalities: Challenges on the Way to Increased Innovation Capacity in Public Organisations
2022 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration, ISSN 2001-7405, E-ISSN 2001-7413, Vol. 26, no 3, p. 25-44Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Public sector innovation and innovation capacity have gained increased attention inresearch and policy in recent decades, but empirical knowledge is still limited. Thisarticle focuses on initiatives to systematically support innovation in the public sector,with the aim of exploring challenges related to the organisation of innovation support inSwedish municipalities. The study is based on three case studies of municipal innovationsupport operations and 23 qualitative interviews with participants within these operations.The findings show how different innovation support strategies were chosen, ranging fromsuggestion box setups to idea coaching and training using service design methodology.Regardless of strategy, the initiatives faced challenges related to a lack of direction onwhat to innovate and implementation phases not being part of the innovation support.Other challenges related to managers being involved too late in the innovation processesand difficulties securing a commitment to work with innovation within the organisation.These findings point to both the general challenges of supporting change in organisationsand the specific challenges of introducing innovation and setting up innovation support inpublic sector organisations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Göteborg: Göteborg School of Public Administration, 2022
National Category
Work Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-188538 (URN)
Available from: 2022-09-15 Created: 2022-09-15 Last updated: 2023-03-22
2. Managers’ support for workplace innovation in the public sector: Wedged between expectations and conditions
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Managers’ support for workplace innovation in the public sector: Wedged between expectations and conditions
2022 (English)In: European Journal of Workplace Innovation, ISSN 2387-4570, Vol. 7, no 1, p. 84-108Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Over the past few years, public policy interventions have been initiated to promote public sector innovation. These top-down initiatives have been aimed at generating bottom-up movement, and first-line managers are believed to play an important role in this transformation. However, little is known about the challenges first-line managers face in their role as agents of change. This article provides unique insight into the expectations and conditions that first-line managers face when innovation support is implemented in municipalities. The article draws on 23 interviews with participants from three Swedish cases where innovation support has been implemented in the municipal context. These three cases of innovation support are examples of conscious efforts to systematise innovation work that also affect the first-line managers in the organisation. The findings reveal that a multitude of expectations pointing towards an exploration logic are placed on first-line managers to lead, dare and support in connection with employee-driven innovation, but the conditions under which they operate point towards an exploitation logic. The managers find themselves wedged between high expectations and a lack of mandate, resources and organisational support for workplace innovation in the public sector context.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Kristiansand: , 2022
Keywords
innovation support, public sector, municipalities, first-line manager, workplace innovation, employee-driven innovation, EDI
National Category
Work Sciences Public Administration Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-184228 (URN)10.46364/ejwi.v7i1.927 (DOI)
Available from: 2022-04-08 Created: 2022-04-08 Last updated: 2023-03-22
3. Learning and employee-driven innovation in the public sector – the interplay between employee engagement and organisational conditions
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Learning and employee-driven innovation in the public sector – the interplay between employee engagement and organisational conditions
2023 (English)In: Journal of Workplace Learning, ISSN 1366-5626, E-ISSN 1758-7859, Vol. 35, no 9, p. 86-100Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose – The purpose of this study is to examine learning and employee-driven innovation (EDI) in thepublic sector, with a particular focus on the interplay between employee engagement and organisationalconditions.

Design/methodology/approach – The material consists of qualitative interviews with 23 participantsfrom three municipal sites of innovation support that participated in a national programme aiming tostrengthen municipalities’ innovation work.

Findings – The study found numerous constraining organisational conditions resulting in consequentialloss of employee engagement for EDI. The conclusion drawn is that employee engagement and enablingorganisational conditions are central to EDI in public sector workplaces, and that incorporating EDI intomunicipal daily operations requires paying attention to the interplay between organisational conditions andemployee engagement.

Originality/value – This paper provides important guidance for supporting EDI in the public sector.Implementing EDI into operations requires employee engagement to be successful. However, employees’engagement should not be overlooked or taken for granted. A practical implication of this study is that EDI inthe workplace must be encouraged by creating a learning environment that supports innovative learning inthe workplace. In practice, measures should be taken to support employee engagement by creatingorganisational conditions that provide a more expansive learning environment to ensure the continuity andperpetuation of EDI in public sector organisations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2023
Keywords
Employee-driven innovation, Workplace learning, Learning environment, Public sector innovation
National Category
Work Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-191764 (URN)10.1108/jwl-05-2022-0055 (DOI)000929569700001 ()2-s2.0-85147562029 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2023-02-13 Created: 2023-02-13 Last updated: 2023-03-22Bibliographically approved

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