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Balancing Control and Breakthrough in Public Management
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Science, Technology and Media, Department of Quality Technology and Management, Mechanical Engineering and Mathematics. (Kvalitetsteknik)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7409-8966
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Previous research shows that a good balance between focus on development of existing processes with development of new and innovative products, processes or services has a positive effect on organizational excellence. However, the relationship between these two quality perspectives is not easy to maintain and it is a challenge for every organization to find an appropriate balance between them. Previous research shows also that there is often a striking overemphasis on continuous improvement and stepwise refinement at the expense of working with innovations. Consequently, it has become necessary to find forms for development of the balance between improvement of existing processes and innovations. It is a question of how to manage both exploitation (improvement of existing processes) and exploration (innovations). Being able to manage both exploitation and exploration and maintain a good balance is known as organizational ambidexterity.

The purpose of this thesis is to develop existing knowledge of how organisational ambidexterity and innovation can be understood and developed as an approach to increasing customer value in the context of the public sector. In order to meet the purpose, the research behind this thesis was conducted through six studies. The results have been presented in six scientific articles. The analytical focus in the research has been on management of public organization. Thus, the unit of analysis has been public sector management both at national, regional and municipal level. The studies have been conducted with a qualitative approach and data collection has primarily been done through semi- structured interviews. Most of the data has been collected in Sweden.

Through the studies, it appears that the current quality practice in the Swedish public sector to a large extent relates to and supports exploitation, but not exploration. The empirical findings give examples of organizations that have a large focus on systematic measurement and control of the work process. An inhibition of increased customer value is indicated in the studied organizations’ current emphasis on exploitation at the expense of exploration. The research also shows that there are a number of impediments for the public organizations studied to combine their current quality practice with an improved ability to explore. It appears that there is a need for development of the leeway for exploration in order to increase the ability to be ambidextrous.

The research behind this thesis empirically identifies a number of enablers the public organization may need to work actively with in order to develop organizational ambidexterity. Some of these enabling factors harmonize with quality movement core values. This applies to core values like committed leadership, focus on customers and a holistic system perspective. In addition, the following factors are perceived to be enabling factors for organizational ambidexterity: specific budgets for both exploration and exploitation; development of a culture in which employees feel that they are allowed to make mistakes; a good dialogue both internally and with external stake holders; focusing on the implementation of innovations and clear incentives for work on exploration as well as for work on exploitation. Finally, the empirical data also shows that an enabling factor is to get different professions involved in explorative processes. This can be achieved by working through ambassadors who can promote the explorative processes.

The enablers, which have been empirically identified in this research as important for organizational ambidexterity, have also previously been identified by scholars as enablers for innovations. The research behind this thesis contributes to the empirical sorting out which - out of a wide range of factors - may be the most important factors for organizational ambidexterity. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sundsvall: Mittuniversitetet , 2017. , 95 p.
Series
Mid Sweden University doctoral thesis, ISSN 1652-893X ; 258
Keyword [en]
innovation, ambidexterity, quality management, public administration.
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-30518ISBN: 978-91-88527-03-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:miun-30518DiVA: diva2:1085483
Public defence
2017-04-07, Q221, Mittuniversitetet, Östersund, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

Vid tidpunkten för disputationen var följande delarbeten opublicerade: delarbete 6 accepterat.

At the time of the doctoral defence the following papers were unpublished: paper 6 accepted.

Available from: 2017-03-30 Created: 2017-03-29 Last updated: 2017-03-30Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Agencies, it’s Time to Innovate!: Exploring the current understanding of the Swedish government’s call for innovation
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Agencies, it’s Time to Innovate!: Exploring the current understanding of the Swedish government’s call for innovation
2015 (English)In: International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences, ISSN 1756-669X, E-ISSN 1756-6703, Vol. 7, no 1, 34-49 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose

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. InSweden, 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.  

 

The purpose of this paper is hence 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.

 

Methodology/approach This study 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

The study 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 towards a shared understanding and aligned innovation actions within the system.

 

Originality/value

The articlecontributes knowledgeabout the current understanding of innovation in the Swedish governmental administration system.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2015
Keyword
Innovation; quality management; government agencies; public administration
National Category
Other Engineering and Technologies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-23139 (URN)10.1108/IJQSS-04-2014-0029 (DOI)2-s2.0-84933037434 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2014-10-07 Created: 2014-10-07 Last updated: 2017-03-29Bibliographically approved
2. The challenge of integrating innovation and quality management practice
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The challenge of integrating innovation and quality management practice
2016 (English)In: Total Quality Management and Business Excellence, ISSN 1478-3363, E-ISSN 1478-3371, Vol. 7, no 1-2, 34-47 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Following in the footsteps of ‘New Public Management’, where quality management and quality control have become widely implemented concepts among public authorities, there is now a subsequent government demand to also be innovative. However, integrating and achieving a balance between improved quality and increased innovation is not an easy task. Previous research indicates a complex and ambiguous relation, raising questions as to how to optimally combine these two approaches organisationally, operationally, and culturally. Is there an ‘edge of chaos’ where there is maximal flexibility for innovation while maintaining sufficient order for quality? The purpose of this paper is to examine the potential integration of innovation and quality management practice within the public sector. The paper is based on a multiple case study design, confronted with existing literature, and shows that the current quality management practice is perceived as being related to standardisation, leading to a decrease in the space for innovation. Second, that there is an expectation and belief that innovation and quality management can be handled in parallel and reinforce each other instead of being mutually detrimental.

Keyword
quality; innovation; organisational learning; quality management; public sector
National Category
Other Engineering and Technologies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-23136 (URN)10.1080/14783363.2014.939841 (DOI)000374776100003 ()2-s2.0-84956834796 (Scopus ID)
Note

Published online: 30 Jul 2014

Available from: 2014-10-07 Created: 2014-10-07 Last updated: 2017-03-29Bibliographically approved
3. Towards Improving InnovAbility: Elaborating on the Ability to Measure Innovation Quality in Service Organizations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Towards Improving InnovAbility: Elaborating on the Ability to Measure Innovation Quality in Service Organizations
2012 (English)In: Electronic Proceedings of the 15th QMOD Conference / [ed] S. Dahlgaard-Park, J. Dahlgaard, A. Hamrol, Comprint , 2012Conference paper, (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Purpose

A frequent topic in quality management initiatives is measurement. The old saying “you get what you measure” is then used to reinforce interest in measurement. With this rhetoric, it isargued that proper measurement is a prerequisite for an organization’s ability to continuously improve. Simply put, without understanding “where you are”, and later “what you got“ as a result of your interventions, it is difficult to learn. In other words, you become unable to complete the improvement cycle, generally known as the PDCA-cycle (Plan, Do, Check, Act). This general logic of organizational learning is hard to argue against. It also illustrates the critical importance of finding “the right” organizational measurements that capture the quality of the desired result. So what measurements and evaluation tools should be used for improving one of the most essential activities of an organization, the activity known as innovation? That is a question asked in the  service industry today, and the question of interest in this paper. More specifically, this paper aims to contribute knowledge about and new perspectives on the measurement of innovation quality in service organizations.

Methodology/Approach

The paper is based on a literature review of the phenomenon of innovation quality in combination with an empirical study of public officials’  and managers’  perception and definition of innovation quality. The methodological approach for the empirical study is qualitative and carried out in the form of a desk review and interviews with staff at the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) head office and at Swedish embassiesabroad.

Findings

The planning of monitoring and evaluation of the innovation process has to be done early in the innovation process. By defining the concept of innovation and the development of three types of quality indicators, innovation can be evaluated. Concepts and indicators have to bedesigned in context. It is not possible to rely on ready-made definitions. By following a five-step model in the cyclic process of measuring innovation quality, the PDCA cycle will be accomplished and the conditions for InnovAbility will improve.

Value of the Paper

The paper contributes to the understanding of how innovation quality can be measured, andthereby how the ability to innovate (InnovAbility) can be improved, in service organizations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Comprint, 2012
Keyword
Innovation, Innovation Quality, Quality Management, Measure Innovation, InnovAbility
National Category
Reliability and Maintenance
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-18081 (URN)978-83-89333-46-9 (ISBN)
Conference
15th QMOD conference on Quality and Service Sciences ICQSS September 5-7, 2012, Poznan, Poland
Available from: 2012-12-20 Created: 2012-12-20 Last updated: 2017-03-29Bibliographically approved
4. From Reducing to Dynamically Managing Operational Deviations in the Service Sector: Towards Integrating Quality and Innovation Management in Practice by Ambidextrous Deviation Management (ADM)
Open this publication in new window or tab >>From Reducing to Dynamically Managing Operational Deviations in the Service Sector: Towards Integrating Quality and Innovation Management in Practice by Ambidextrous Deviation Management (ADM)
2014 (English)Conference paper, (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Purpose

Defining “quality” as being inversely proportional to variability, and “quality improvements” as being the reduction of variability in processes and products, might now be a thing of the past. Even so, the history of the quality movement, with its strong focus on the elimination of deviations, continues to influence the thought and practice of modern quality management.

 However, we believe it is time for a more profound approach in both thought and practice when it comes to deviations, and especially when it comes to operational deviations in the service sector. Deviation does not per se have to be a foe, in some cases it is, on the contrary, a constructive friend. In fact, current research on organizational ambidexterity shows that long-term survival requires the ability to simultaneously exploit and explore. The organizations of the future hence need the ability to both dynamically reduce and at the same time increase deviations: the challenge is to know when to repress and when to encourage deviation. Something which is referred to here as ambidextrous deviation management.

The aim of this paper is to elaborate conceptually and practically on the subject of how exploitation (being the traditional focus on quality management) and exploration (being a traditional focus of innovation management) could be integrated into the management of deviations and operations within service organizations.

Value of the Paper

The paper presents insights concerning how the need for organizational ambidexterity could be met by various approaches for dynamically managing and encouraging operational deviations in the service sector.

Keyword
Deviation, Positive Deviation, Deviation management, Quality Management, Sustainable Quality Management, Organizational Ambidexterity
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-23224 (URN)
Conference
QMOD 2014 - Conference on Quality and Service Sciences
Available from: 2014-10-16 Created: 2014-10-16 Last updated: 2017-03-29Bibliographically approved
5. Key enabling factors for organizational ambidexterity in the public sector
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Key enabling factors for organizational ambidexterity in the public sector
2017 (English)In: International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences, ISSN 1756-669X, E-ISSN 1756-6703, Vol. 9, no 1, 2-20 p., IJQSS-04-2016-0038Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose – The capability of an organization to perform not only incremental quality improvements to the existing processes and products but also innovative or radical improvements that explore new opportunities is referred to as organizational ambidexterity. Research indicates that the long-term success of organizations demands a dynamic balancing of and excelling at both perspectives. However, there is considerably less clarity as regards how this can be achieved. The purpose of this paper is to empirically explore enabling factors for organizational ambidexterity in the public sector.

Design/methodology/approach – This study is a qualitative study based on interviews with managers at two public organizations in Sweden. The analysis is conducted using a soft system methodology.

Findings – Nine enabling factors for organizational ambidexterity are identi ed and presented in two pictures inspired by the Soft System Methodology. The study indicates that it above all is important to create leeway for exploration to achieve organizational ambidexterity in the public sector. The study strengthens the belief that some quality movement values and tools can be considered important, whereas others can counteract the ability to achieve organizational ambidexterity in public administration.

Practical implications – Practitioners and scholars can use the identi ed enablers and the Soft System Methodology presented in this study to examine and develop the organizational ambidexterity of other public organizations. Originality/value – This study explores empirically the concept of ambidexterity in the public sector, a perspective that few previous scholars have studied. 

Keyword
Innovation, Exploration, Quality management, Exploitation, Customer value, Organizational ambidexterity
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-30514 (URN)10.1108/IJQSS-04-2016-0038 (DOI)2-s2.0-85015777133 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2017-03-29 Created: 2017-03-29 Last updated: 2017-04-25Bibliographically approved
6. Exploring enablers of innovative quality development in public administration
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Exploring enablers of innovative quality development in public administration
2017 (English)Article in journal (Refereed) Accepted
Abstract [en]

 

Today’s public administration is facing a wide range of challenges. This situation requires an ability to change and innovate. However, difficulties in the implementation of innovations have been seen as the cause of many administrations’ inability to achieve the intended benefits of innovations. The aim with this study is therefore to empirically determine which - out of a wide range of enabling factors for innovations - may be the most important for the specific process step of moving from ideas to implementation of innovations in a public administration context, and furthermore, to identify possible additional enablers for this specific process step.

 

Design

 

This study is a qualitative study based on semi-structured interviews with city officials in four cities on four continents.

 

Findings

 

The study identifies five key enablers for transforming ideas into implemented innovations in public administration: a) A committed and hands-on leadership, b) internal as well as external networking, c) innovation processes over time alternately organized as a separate project, and as part of the standard operating procedures, d) a system understanding including an understanding of how the parts contribute to a shared vision and e) communication of achieved, tangible, short-term results. Three of these enablers are previously identified as overall enablers for innovation and two complement previously identified enablers.

 

Originality

 

The article identifies enabling factors for the specific step of going from idea generation to implementation of innovations in a public sector context. The article also reviews enabling factors from real experiences. Much of the former literature is conceptual. The article analyses an area in which there is a general lack of empirical research. 

Keyword
innovation, innovation implementation, quality management, change management, public administration
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-30516 (URN)
Available from: 2017-03-29 Created: 2017-03-29 Last updated: 2017-03-30Bibliographically approved

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