Windows of Translation in Public Service Innovation: Introducing a New Mission in Public Childcare

Ditte Thøgersen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Innovation and change processes, no matter how well designed, often do not play out as planned. Attention fades, priorities change, and it can be difficult to maintain momentum. Failed translation of innovation has been seen as evidence of lacking readiness for change, of adopters’ translation incompetence or of editing beyond recognition. Based on a real-time, in-depth study of the micro-dynamics of realizing an abstract mission into everyday practice, this study argues that key events designed by the management team serve as offerings for employees to enter a reflexive space, thereby creating a ‘window of translation’.

MAD statement
Public managers know how difficult it can be to maintain focus over time when an organization is working to develop and change the professional practice. This study suggests that innovation processes can benefit from offering various opportunities for reflection and active engagement with the translation of an abstract idea into concrete practice. When employees engage actively in reflexive practices, a window of translation opens. However, they do so asynchronously, which means that continuous management attention and repeated events for reflection, experimentation and discussion are needed to get everyone on board.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Change Management
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)401-421
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Published online: 13 March 2022.


  • Translation theory
  • Mission innovation
  • Public innovation
  • Frontlines
  • Public service organizations
  • Scandinavian institutionalism

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