University of Vaasa


Alisa Puustinen, researcher, M.Soc.Sci., Social and Health Management, University of Vaasa. Puustinen is a social psychologist finalizing her PhD. in social networks, network management and complexity in public administration. In addition to networks and complexity, she has been studying issues like the role of civil society in security and defense, European health workforce planning and forecasting and national reforms in public administration. Currently she is working on deliberative democracy in asylum seeker policy and attitudes.

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Success and failure?:
Volume: 18, Issue 3-4
This paper examines the dynamics in organizational innovation processes, and in particular, the role blockages. The case covers the process of designing a joint-stock enterprise that is partly owned by the employees and partly by the federation of municipalities, and is to deliver primary health care services to a set of municipalities. After a promising start, the process is now stuck before it has reached the implementation phase. The purpose of the paper is to examine the dynamics in the organizational innovation process, and in particular, the role of blockages and failures. By highlighting the value of complexity theoretical thinking, this paper seeks to contribute to our understanding of the nature of organizational innovation in the public sector and the analytical power of complexity. The data consists of interviews with the key actors in the process and is analysed by applying theory driven content analysis. Preliminary results suggest that the organizational innovation process is characterized by an active use of relational potential and a sequence of unexpected events resulting in emergent patterns. The space of possibilities not only frames the system but also enables co-evolutionary dynamics to emerge. Contrary to the fitness (or performance) landscape models, where the (organizational) structure is seen as an important determinant of the innovation potential, it does not seem to play a central role in this particular case. Results suggest that the innovation itself emerges in the complex responsive processes of relating between key actors, long before the end result of the process is realized. A structural failure might turn into a relational success.