Innovationsledelse i danske kommuner: Om at flytte en ko ud af en kløvermark

Karen Delfs

Student thesis: Master executive thesis


The subject of this thesis is innovation management, as it is practised by leaders of the three big welfare domains: schools, children- and elder care in a Danish municipality. The study concerns the role of the leaders in development and support of an innovative conduct with the staff, and the governance of innovational processes. The assumption is, that the leaders will have to play a key role in the innovation processes that are the result of the municipalities in Denmark having to rethink the citizen services because of constant cutbacks of the municipal economy. They are going to create the framework for employees and users, so that they can develop creativity and implement new ways of working. At the same time the leaders, however, have to manage the daily operations, where the economy is under pressure, citzens have high expectations of service and employees have high professional standards to maintain. The question is how to govern an innovation project in this strain. Can the projects be regarded as governance networks and the leader’s government as network governance? What leadership roles and what role characteristics can be identified with leaders who encourage development, implementation and spreading of innovative projects? For my analysis I’ve made a casestudy of the municipality of Silkeborg, which, based on a very large cutback, chose to focus on creating an innovation culture, as one of the elements to make the ressources stretch longer. I’ve used three theoretical perspectives to examine my question: 1) leadership roles, 2) governance networks and 3) meta-governance. A governance network is ”1) a relatively stable horizontal articulation of interdependent, but operational autonomous actors, 2) who interact through negotiations that involve bargaining, deliberation and intens power struggles, 3) which take place in a relatively institutionalized framework of contigently articulated rules, norms, knowledge and social imaginaries, 4) that is self-regulating within limits set by external agencies, and 5) which contribute to the production of public purpose in the broad sense of visions, ideas, plans and regulations. .”(Sørensen and Torfing, 2005). The goal of meta-governance is to make the participating actors of governance networks to work together to solve specific governance task and in spite of conflicts of interests. Roles are hardened collective expectations about a certain conduct, but roles also make actions possible limiting the set of outcomes and is therefore a precondition of meaningful social interaction. My first conclusion is, that the leaders are competent in working with meta-governance in networks, primarily in creating sense and identity. In the projects I’ve analyzed, all with highly skilled professionals and a high level of commitment, it is important to create ownership among the employees if the implementation of the projects is going to be successful. To involve users in the project, meta-governance also is used in supporting and establishing networks. Finally, there is a particular issue about small institutions. In small institutions it might be necessary to meta-govern through direct participation in networks, but also to micro-govern if the projects must take the desired direction. In successful innovation processes I have found three variants of the leadership roles that are defined by government paradigms in the literature. Firstly there is the conductor-role which is characterized by having a strong common vision, using meta-governance in behalf of creating sense and identity, working with transformative learning and being highly process-orientated, working with storytelling and disturbances as process facilitating and being able to draw inspiration from outside, even if the network is intra-organizational and permanent. The second leadership-role is the intrapreneur, who cooperates in an inter-organizational network with external actors. This role is very result-oriented from a common goal and governs in a balance between top down and bottom up, with meta-governance as well as micro-governance. Finally there is the co-operator, who works strongly result-orientented in a closed, ad-hoc network. She empowers her employees through process facilitation and governs hands-on with micro-governance as well as with meta-governance through direct participation in the network, in which she is the centre. The leadership roles have different role characteristics that all the same can be grouped in four common categories: knowledge, relations, processes and frames.

EducationsMaster of Public Governance, (Executive Master Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages53