Logics in Project Managers' Practices: How Managers of Public-Private-Innovation Partnerships Interact and Cope with Their Environment

Lasse Dalby Jensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Innovation, however vaguely the term might appear, has over the last decade or so achieved status as a strong normative societal belief in Denmark. New legislation has resulted in the development of policies and regulations that enable public organizations to initiate focused innovation initiatives funded, at least partly, by the state. A tangible outcome of this is a new organizational construct called Public-Private-Innovation, where public organizations invite private firms to participate in partnerships with the goal of innovating processes or products within the public sector. For managers, such partnerships constitute highly complex contexts as they not only have to balance the expectations of significantly different partners, but also find themselves in an area of public sector management where rules and regulations are yet to be fully formulated let alone implemented. Public-Private-Innovation projects hence offer a rich empirical area for this study, having as its purpose to generate knowledge about the dynamic relationships between micro-level actors and their environment. By wielding together The Institutional Logics Perspective with research on the discipline of project management a coherent and unique framework is derived, offering strong analytical couplings between the micro-, meso- and macro-levels. Having established The Organizational Field of Innovation as overall point of departure for analyses, a practice-oriented approach is employed for the study of managerial practices. It is shown how the young age of the field together with its high number of partakers that represent various, sometimes competing interests and professional backgrounds, result in a very heterogeneous environment. Focusing on what implications this environment have on managers' decision-making and practice creations, it is demonstrated how environmental complexity makes it possible for actors to translate the same concepts and phenomena in radically different ways, causing great horizontal variance in micro-level practices within the same context. Furthermore, this complexity is also proved to result in conspicuous vertical complexity, making incongruence between espoused meso-level practices and actual microlevel practices prevalent. The legitimization of innovation as priority in public governance can from this perspective be observed as directly constitutive of transformations in the institutional environment of public managers and organizations, enabling them to draw on a variety of logics in their interpretations of reality, subsequently having crucial implications for what behaviors are perceived as appropriate and hence how work is approached.

EducationsMSc in Strategy, Organization and Leadership, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages136