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Agencies, it’s time to innovate! Exploring the current understanding of the Swedish government’s call for innovation

Klas Palm (Department of Quality Technology and Management, Mid Sweden University, Knivsta, Sweden)
Johan Lilja (Department of Quality Technology and Management, Mid Sweden University, Knivsta, Sweden)
Håkan Wiklund (Department of Quality Technology and Management, Mid Sweden University, Knivsta, Sweden)

International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences

ISSN: 1756-669X

Article publication date: 16 March 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the phenomenon of innovation in the current Swedish governmental administration system. More specifically, the paper explores the current understanding within the system of what innovation is, as well as why and how it should be achieved. Innovation is currently at the top of many agendas worldwide: not only in the private sector but also when it comes to increasing quality, efficiency and effectiveness in public administration. In Sweden, this is reflected in the recent call from the Government for innovation in public management. However, innovation has not traditionally occurred to any significant extent on the strategic level of Swedish public management. Furthermore, governmental administration is a complex system in need of coordination and alignment for this new call to be effectively realized in practice.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper has been based on a qualitative approach with a case consisting of three embedded units: the Government itself, a ministry and a Government agency. The data have been collected from documents and interviews.

Findings

This paper shows that there is currently a notable disparity when it comes to how aspects of innovation are understood at different levels within the Swedish governmental administration system. Furthermore, the recent business development to increase the standardization of work processes is perceived as having created poorer preconditions for working with innovations.

Practical implications

The results highlight critical areas of disparity and possibilities for improvement toward a shared understanding and aligned innovation actions within the system.

Originality/value

This paper contributes knowledge about the current understanding of innovation in the Swedish governmental administration system.

Keywords

Citation

Palm, K., Lilja, J. and Wiklund, H. (2015), "Agencies, it’s time to innovate! Exploring the current understanding of the Swedish government’s call for innovation", International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 34-49. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJQSS-04-2014-0029

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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