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Driving Forces Of Welfare Innovation: Explaining Interrelations Between Innovation And Professional Development

C. Wegener
Published 2016 · Economics

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This chapter discusses the potential and necessary interrelations between professionals’ ongoing development and their engagement in innovative practices at work. A growing number of countries and organizations are putting great effort into integrating innovation in school curricula, as well as in staff and manager training programmes. Innovation strategies and government-sponsored documents throughout the world have stressed the need to accelerate innovation. Innovation is no longer reserved for research and development departments or so-called creative professions. It has become a key goal towards which on-going professional development needs to be directed. Now perceived as germane and even necessary in almost all kinds of work, the innovation potential in everyday practices and ways of allowing for employer creativity have become highly relevant objects of study. However, there is a need to know what professionals actually do in the process of experimenting in and through their work, as well as the managerial priorities from which experiments and adjustments can be supported to become innovations. Traditionally, research has regarded innovation in terms of phases of invention, implementation and dissemination. These phase models, despite often being described as messy and iterative may, however, be inadequate for investigating and supporting innovation as an integrated part of ongoing professional development. A case study of everyday innovation efforts in elderly care in Denmark is used here to propose an alternative model. The model suggests that innovation can be studied and supported by means of three driving forces, termed (i) craft (i.e. professional skills and knowledge), (ii) levers (i.e. experiments and adjustment of routines) and (iii) purposes (i.e. values and visions). The model points to the necessary interrelations between professionals’ ongoing development and their engagement in innovative practices and thus provides a conception of welfare innovation which is not translated from firm innovation, but derived directly from welfare contexts.
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