Managers’ support for workplace innovation in the public sector: Wedged between expectations and conditions
Over the past few years, public policy interventions have been initiated to promote public sector innovation. These top-down initiatives have been aimed at generating bottom-up movement, and first-line managers are believed to play an important role in this transformation. However, little is known about the challenges first-line managers face in their role as agents of change. This article therefore explores the expectations and conditions that first-line managers face when innovation support is implemented in municipalities. The article draws on 23 interviews with participants from three Swedish cases where innovation support has been implemented in the municipal context. The findings reveal that a multitude of expectations pointing towards an explorative logic are placed on first-line managers to lead, dare and support in connection with employee-driven innovation, but the conditions under which they operate point towards an exploitative logic. The managers find themselves wedged between high expectations and a lack of mandate, resources and organisational support for workplace innovation in the public sector context.
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