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Capacity development for innovation in the public sector

Klas Palm (Department of Civil and Industrial Engineering, Uppsala Universitet, Uppsala, Sweden)

International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences

ISSN: 1756-669X

Article publication date: 28 February 2020

Issue publication date: 1 December 2020




The public sector seems to have a culture and structure for control and improvement of ongoing activities but lacks the culture and structures for innovation. Thus, capacity development among public sector employees can be an important method for the development of better conditions for innovation. The purpose of this paper is to identify key factors affecting the achievement of good results when municipal and regional organisations carry out capacity development of employees with the aim of creating greater leeway for innovation in their organisation.


The study behind this paper has looked at four different concrete cases, which have applied essentially different methods for capacity building for innovation issues. A qualitative research method was used. Data were collected via semi-structured interviews with 39 respondents. The analysis of the information revealed in the interviews was carried out through a thematic analysis in three steps.


The study shows that action learning makes it easier for employees to turn knowledge generated through action into reality. The study also shows that it seems difficult to work from a digital communication platform if the platform is not combined with physical meetings. The study shows that committed and hands-on leadership is very important, that there is a need for strategic communication related to the capacity development effort including clarification and definition of what innovation means in the local context.


This paper shows a number of important aspects to consider when municipalities and regional organisations plan their capacity development initiatives in innovation. By taking these into account increases the ability of public organisations to develop and adapt their operations and deliver high quality and value-adding services to the citizens.



Palm, K. (2020), "Capacity development for innovation in the public sector", International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 265-280.



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