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Ulrika Westrup.

Ulrika Westrup

Universitetslektor, docent

Ulrika Westrup.

Service innovation in welfare : The lack of managerial support to stimulate and promote improvement of services from a user-oriented perspective


  • Ulrika Westrup
  • Pernilla Danielsson

Summary, in English

Today, there are increased expectations that welfare employees should conduct service innovative improvements that enable more effective ways to meet the needs of children.In this study we use the definition of ‘service innovation’ as a way to change the value-adding process of the user so that it becomes better for the end-user than it was before, such as easier to handle things or situations. In accordance with the definition, the employees’ innovation work needs to be based on a user perspective and not an organizational perspective. Otherwise, it cannot be described as a service innovation. This way of looking at service innovation is based on a service logic perspective with the aim of constantly finding possible solutions to facilitate the user to create their own value. However, initiating and implementing service innovation work is not a simple task in welfare services for several reasons. One significant reason is that employees in welfare services usually see themselves as specialists or experts that define and offer services in the form of solutions and efforts to the children. Such resulting interventions are thus based on the organizations’ own conditions and not the child’s need for how the interventions need to be organized, and as such it limits and locks the ability to innovate. Another reason is that there is insufficient knowledge on how to manage successful innovation work in the public welfare sector based on a service-logic perspective. An important issue to investigate is therefore: How can welfare employees’ innovation work be supported from a service logic perspective?
The focus in our study is social services that provide welfare services to children in complex life situations. In order to investigate the issue,empirical material has been obtained from a social organization in a medium-sized municipality in Sweden, under a two years research project (2017–2018). The material has been gathered from six meetings with a management team (15 managers) combined with a questionnaire for 85 employees and three focus group interviews with a cross-group of 12 employees from three units. The findings show that the employees’ proposals for new ways of organizing services need to be brought into ordinary meeting and decision structures as a consciously designed process. Ideas exist in the organization, but there is a lack of a coherent innovation process. Employees are not always clear on what mandate they have to push ideas and where to turn with them. The study examines a working model based on a service logic perspective with a cross-professional group. The conclusion is that the model works best adapted to specific contexts, where it helps employees think from the outside in. This study is thus a good example of how to make use of a service logic perspective to understand and explain public welfare services but also to be able to highlight limitations of the perspective.


  • Institutionen för tjänstevetenskap






Konferensbidrag: abstract


  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Conference name

Innovation in Public Services and Public Policy Conference (PUBSIC)

Conference date

2020-01-29 - 2020-01-31

Conference place

Stavanger, Norway