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Ulrika Westrup

Senior lecturer


In search of a model for sustainable innovation in welfare services


  • Katja Lindqvist
  • Ulrika Westrup

Summary, in English

Paper for the Public and Social Innovation Conference (PUBSIC), Lillehammer University College, Lillehammer, Norway, 15-17 November, 2017
Theme 7B: managing and evaluating sustainable innovation In search of a model for sustainable innovation in welfare services Katja Lindqvist & Ulrika WestrupDepartment of Service Management and Service Studies, Lund University, Swedenkatja [dot] lindqvist [at] ism [dot] lu [dot] se, ulrika [dot] westrup [at] ism [dot] lu [dot] se Introduction In municipal welfare services is there seldom time for innovation, since front-line civil servants are overburdened with work tasks (Travis et al., 2016). At the same time, municipal welfare services, such as urgent municipal child support services, are urgently in need of new ways of structuring their operations and processes in order to support target groups (Skolverket, 2017; Socialstyrelsen, 2017a). Overall, both governments and researchers have identified a need for innovation in public service organisations due to changes towards increased complexity and unpredictability in society, the limits of bureaucratic organisation, and budgetary restrictions (Alves, 2013; Fuglsang and Sundbo, 2016; SKL, 2017; Socialstyrelsen, 2017b). In public administration and management research, there has been an increasing acknowledgement of the centrality of collaborative innovation as a way to address these challenges (Kickert et al., 1997; Bekkers et al., 2011; Sørensen and Torfing, 2011). Many studies of innovation in public service delivery focus on factors contributing to successful implementation of innovations, and not on the outcome (Voorberg, Bekkers and Tummers, 2015). Knowledge of factors that facilitate and hamper collaborative innovation is of course important from a public management and governance perspective, but does this type of research help public service organisations to become more innovative?In public management research, it has been proposed that the service-dominant logic has a potential of improving innovation in the welfare sector (e.g., Osborne et al., 2015; Osborne et al., 2013; Quist and Fransson, 2014; Radnor et al., 2014). According to a service-dominant logic, the innovative elements and innovation capabilities emphasize constantly finding the best possible solutions to facilitate the customer or end user. This means that service logic and innovation are close to each other as concepts (Lusch och Vargo, 2014; Skålén, 2016; Quist and Fransson, 2014). Less, if anything, has to date been published on empirical studies of implementation of a service-dominant logic in welfare services (Osborne et al., 2015). This paper explores opportunities and challenges for sustainable innovation in operative welfare services through structural and processual management support. More precisely, we will investigate whether service dominant logic can support managers in urgent child support services in the effort to stimulate innovation and provide structures for implementing innovation in a sustainable way. Through this, we want to contribute to the body of knowledge on the implementability of a service-dominant logic in municipal social services, more specifically by testing its usability as a tool for guiding employees and managers in welfare service organisations in developing methods and models for sustainable innovation. The paper also contributes theoretically to the debate on the potential of the service-dominant logic framework in the public sector. This contribution consists of an elaboration of a definition of the service-dominant logic framework in relation to a management/governance approach to public sector innovation. This in turn is done through a discussion of points of reference and divergence between service-dominant logic literature and public sector innovation literature, in particular relating to welfare services.References Alves, Helena (2013) Co-creation and innovation in public services. The Service Industries Journal 33(7-8), 671-682.Bekkers, Victor, Edelenbos, Jurian and Steijn, Bram (2011) Linking innovation to the public sector: Contexts, concepts and challenges. In: Bekkers, Victor, Edelenbos, Jurian and Steijn, Bram (Eds.) Innovation in the Public Sector: Linking Capacity and Leadership. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Fuglsang, L. and Sundbo, J. (2016). Innovation in public service systems, In M Toivonen (ed.). Service innovation. Novel ways of creating value in actor systems (217– 234). Translational System Sciences 6. Japan: SpringerKickert, Walter J. M., Klijn, Erik-Hans, and Koppenjan, Joop (Eds.) (1997) Managing complex networks. London: SAGE.Lusch, Robert F. and Vargo, Stephen L. (2014) Service-dominant logic: Premises, perspectives, possibilities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Osborne, Stephen P. and Brown, Louise (Eds.) (2013) Handbook of Innovation in Public Services. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Osborne, Stephen P. Radnor, Zoe; Kinder, Tony and Vidal, Isabel (2015) The SERVICE Framework: A Public-service-dominant Approach to Sustainable Public Services. British Journal of Management 26(3), 424–438.Quist, Johan and Fransson, Martin (2014) Tjänstelogik för offentlig förvaltning – en bok för förnyelsebyråkrater. Stockholm: Liber.Radnor, Zoe, Osborne, Stephen P., Kinder, Tony and Mutton, Jean (2014) Operationalizing co-production in public services delivery: The contribution of service blueprinting. Public Management Review 16(3), 402-423.Skolverket. (2017). Skolverkets lägesbedömning. Skålén, Per (2016) Tjänstelogik. Lund: Studentlitteratur.Sørensen, F, Sundbo, J and Mattsson, J (2013) Organisational conditions for service encounter-based innovation. Research Policy 42, 1446–1456.Sørensen, Eva and Torfing, Jacob (2011) Enhancing collaborative innovation in the public sector. Administration and Society 43(8), 842-868.SKL (2017) “Innovationsguiden” [The Innovation Guide], website with innovation support information. Stockholm: Sveriges kommuner och landsting [Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions]. Available at (2017-11-09)Socialstyrelsen. (2017a). Individ- och familjeomsorg. Lägesrapport 2017. (2017b). Tjänsteutveckling för en tillgänglig och patientcentrerad vård. Om utvecklingskraft i landsting och regioner. Travis, Dnika J.; Lizano, Erica Leeanne and Mor Barak, Michàlle E. (2016) ‘I’m So Stressed!’: A Longitudinal Model of Stress, Burnout and Engagement among SocialWorkers in Child Welfare Settings. British Journal of Social Work 46, 1076–1095.Voorberg, W. H.; Bekkers, V. J. J. M. and Tummers, L. G. (2015) A systematic review of co-creation and co-production: Embarking on the social innovation journey, Public Management Review 17(9), 1333-1357.


  • Department of Service Management and Service Studies

Publishing year




Document type

Conference paper: abstract


  • Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified

Conference name

Public and Social Innovation Conference (PUBSIC)

Conference date

2017-11-15 - 2017-11-17

Conference place

Lillehammer, Norway