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Organizing for innovation between municipality and market: Knowing the where and when but missing the what and how.

Conference contribution
Authors Jon Williamsson
Anders Sandoff
Christian Jensen
Published in NFF 2017, 23 -25 August 2017, Bodø, Norway.
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Business Administration, Management & Organisation
Department of Business Administration, Industrial and Financial Management & Logistics
Language en
Keywords Innovation management, innovation platforms, municipal innovation
Subject categories Public Administration Studies

Abstract

The spread of ideas stemming from the wave of market liberalization that swept the western world during the decades before the millennium has led to considerable changes in how the public sector acts on innovation and envisions the relation between the private and public sectors. Especially in the Nordic countries the realization that the municipality can facilitate demand driven innovation and steer value creation in specific directions has meant that municipalities have been re-conceptualized as potential engines for innovation. Innovation is commonly not thought of as something that is part of the municipal agenda. Consequently there is the potential for considerable cognitive dissonance among individuals active in municipal organizations that strive to incorporate innovation into the organizational agenda. Attempting to both boost innovation locally and foster innovation within the municipality organization four Swedish municipalities engaged in a two and a half year long project with the aim of establishing so called innovation platforms for sustainable and attractive cities. The content that each municipality filled these platforms with was to an extent decided by the governmental call that initiated the work with the platforms. As a consequence the location and the timeframe was defined however the call introduced the bidders to a language and conceptual world that to a large degree was new in that specific context. It was therefore up to both the creators of the call and the bidders who won to find out what this new phenomenon, i.e. a municipal innovation platform, actually would mean both for the municipalities, their stakeholders and the government. Through an at first hesitant process of organization building each group created platform specific goals, alliances and work routines that were considered as useful in building and maintaining these new organizations. The study indicates that the value of innovation platforms does not manifest itself through what could be termed a rationalistic usefulness derived from the platforms’ organizational form or location, somewhere on the border between municipality and private sector, but rather from the collective learning experience that these projects offered to individuals and organizations. Through the imagining and enactment of key concepts linked to the platforms the individuals and organizations accrued knowledge and different forms of capital that were used both in the everyday management of the platforms and as a basis to build future projects on.

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