Innovation Support in Swedish Municipalities – Challenges on the Way to Increased Innovation Capacity in Public Organisations

Linda Lidman, Maria Gustavsson, Anna Fogelberg Eriksson


Public sector innovation and innovation capacity have gained increased attention in research and policy in recent decades, but empirical knowledge is still limited. This article focuses on initiatives to systematically support innovation in the public sector, with the aim of exploring challenges related to the organisation of innovation support in Swedish municipalities. The study is based on three case studies of municipal innovation support operations and 23 qualitative interviews with participants within these operations. The findings show how different innovation support strategies were chosen, ranging from suggestion box setups to idea coaching and training using service design methodology. Regardless of strategy, the initiatives faced challenges related to a lack of direction on what to innovate and implementation phases not being part of the innovation support. Other challenges related to managers being involved too late in the innovation processes and difficulties securing a commitment to work with innovation within the organisation. These findings point to both the general challenges of supporting change in organisations and the specific challenges of introducing innovation and setting up innovation support in public sector organisations.

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Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration

School of Public Administration, Box 712 - SE-405 30 Göteborg

ISSN: 2001-7405, E-ISSN: 2001-7413