Edited by Stephen P. Osborne and Louise Brown
Chapter 29: User involvement in public services innovation
Innovation in public services is currently a government priority in many countries. In Denmark it rose to the top of the political agenda following the so-called Quality Reform (Regeringen 2007) launched by the government in 2007. The reform aims both to increase the quality of public services and to improve staff job satisfaction, and innovation is described as an important means to fulfil both aims. Given that the public sector has traditionally enjoyed a close relationship with public service users, User Driven Innovation (UDI) is expected to become a key driver of innovation in the public sector. But how are users involved in public services innovation in practice? This chapter seeks to shed light on this question by exploring the Danish case, which is particularly interesting to look at since Denmark has a long tradition of involving users in public service management and development. This chapter begins with a brief overview of existing research on UDI. I then look more closely at public service users: who are they, and how can they participate in public sector innovation? These theoretical reflections will be followed by a discussion of user involvement in practice. I present two examples of how users are involved in innovation in different parts of the public sector in Denmark, and I analyse Danish policy papers to see how the user’s role is defined. Finally, I reflect on some dilemmas which occur in user involvement in public service innovation processes.
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