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Managers’ support for workplace innovation in the public sector: Wedged between expectations and 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
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Education and Sociology. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Linköping University, HELIX Competence Centre.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2486-2663
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Education and Sociology. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9287-1561
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. Vol. 7, no 1, p. 84-108
Keywords [en]
innovation support, public sector, municipalities, first-line manager, workplace innovation, employee-driven innovation, EDI
National Category
Work Sciences Public Administration Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-184228DOI: 10.46364/ejwi.v7i1.927OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-184228DiVA, id: diva2:1650803
Available from: 2022-04-08 Created: 2022-04-08 Last updated: 2023-03-22
In thesis
1. Employee-driven innovation in the public sector: At the intersection of innovation support and workplace conditions
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Employee-driven innovation in the public sector: At the intersection of innovation support and workplace conditions
2023 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Medarbetardriven innovation i offentlig sektor : Mellan innovationsstöd och förutsättningar på arbetsplatsen
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
Employee-driven innovation, Innovation support, Public sector innovation, Municipalities, Workplace conditions, Innovation capacity, Medarbetardriven innovation, Innovationsstöd, Innovation i offentlig sektor, Kommuner, Förutsättningar på arbetsplatsen, Innovationsförmåga
National Category
Work Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-192569 (URN)10.3384/9789180750967 (DOI)9789180750950 (ISBN)9789180750967 (ISBN)
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

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Lidman, LindaGustavsson, MariaFogelberg Eriksson, Anna

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