Table of Contents

Sustainable Development in Organizations

Sustainable Development in Organizations

Studies on Innovative Practices

Edited by Mattias Elg, Per- Erik Ellström, Magnus Klofsten and Malin Tillmar

An increasingly competitive environment can lead to considerable problems for many organizations as they struggle to adapt to change. As a result, they fail to create the conditions that can lead to sustainable development over the long term, thus affecting the capabilities of employees. This book provides a fresh perspective on sustainable change and development in organizations, as well as a critical perspective on lean implementation, work environment and sustainability.

Chapter 7: The role of customers in the development of public organizations

Jon Engström, Mattias Elg, Bozena Poksinska, Lars Witell and Hannah Snyder

Subjects: business and management, management and sustainability, organisational innovation, organisation studies


In this chapter we focus on the role of customers in the development of public organizations. We aim to illustrate how customer involvement can be used not only to learn about customer needs, but also to create a tension for change. Following Van de Ven (1986), we view tension for change as dissatisfaction with current conditions that trigger change. Success for public organizations is dependent on their ability to satisfy the needs of their stakeholders (Bryson, 2004). As a consequence, key stakeholders are increasingly being considered an important resource in public sector reforms and change initiatives (Bingham et al., 2005; Tritter and McCallum, 2006). The customer – who receives private value at an agency’s business end – is conceived of as a stakeholder of vital importance for renewal and change (Osborne et al., 2014). The image of the citizen or customer as someone who is passive and submissive is gradually being replaced by someone who is active and engaged (Nordgren, 2008).

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