Designing Public Services: A Multiple Case Study of the Application and Organizational Aspects of Service Design in Danish Municipalities

Nicklas Frisk Johansen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis explores Service Design within the Danish public sector through a qualitative multiple case study. As design is spreading across society and finding its way into the public sector, this thesis acknowledges the importance of exploring the phenomena and critical reflecting on it. Through interviews with Danish municipalities, the first objective was to obtain knowledge on the concrete application of Service Design in these municipalities, and the second objective was to explore the organizational impact of Service Design. The concrete application of Service Design was analysed through the lens of the Design Capacity Framework, and the organizational impact through the institutional logics perspective. The analysis was inspired by a grounded theory and thematical network approach. The analysis displayed different strategies towards the application of Service Design and a changing nature of it. Service Design could be both something concrete and tangible, but in the same moment an intangible mind-set. Everyone can use design tools, but at the same time design is acknowledged as being a particular discipline. Thus, the specific application of design can change and evolve depending on the context. However, its human-centred nature is the key aspect of Service Design within the municipalities. The analysis also displayed that this human-centred nature and new ways of identifying value can prove as a challenge for the public sector. Consequently, the organizational logics can be challenged by the introduction of design. The introduction of Service Design does not only challenge and change the logics within the organization, but also between the public sector and its citizen. The characteristics of this new relationship between citizen and public sector is an area that is highlighted throughout this thesis, but that also needs further research and critical reflections.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and E-business, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages138
SupervisorsMads Bødker