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Public user innovation: exploring the support mechanisms and user roles in a public organisation

Siw Marita Fosstenløkken (Department of Computer Science, Oslo Metropolitan University, Oslo, Norway)

European Journal of Innovation Management

ISSN: 1460-1060

Article publication date: 22 December 2022




This article expands literature on user innovation by exploring the mechanisms that support user innovations in the context of a public organisation. Research has hitherto documented support mechanisms for user innovation in producer companies, where users contribute in early or temporary innovation phases as external non-employees or lead-users engaged by the producer. Complementarily, this paper explores a lesser known area of support mechanisms, those that support internal user innovations in a public sector setting.


Employing a qualitative study of a Norwegian public hospital at the interface between users (personnel and patients) and organisational support (facilitators who orchestrate user innovations), this article analyses in-house user innovation based on observations, text documentation and interviews over a four-year period.


In this public hospital, holistic organisational facilitation of “public user innovators” formed the key support mechanism built on “people” (facilitating co-creation), “process” (facilitating ideas, project realisation and implementation) and “coordination” (facilitating systems and communication). The findings show that public and producer organisational mechanisms both resemble and differ in many respects, as illustrated by the framework developed to describe these characteristics, such as that producers insource users, while the public organisation outsources production.


The originality of the article lies in the identification and description of “public user innovation”, a new term developed from this study of a public organisation in contrast to the dominant literature on producer companies. This article contributes new insights by differentiating the roles of user innovators and the mechanisms that support such innovations. New implications are drawn from the public side of organisational support in user innovation research.



The author sincerely acknowledges the informants and head of innovation at the hospital for their collaboration and great willingness to share their expertise and practice during the research process.


Fosstenløkken, S.M. (2022), "Public user innovation: exploring the support mechanisms and user roles in a public organisation", European Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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