The relationship between research and innovation in the public sector – an analysis of five cases from labour and welfare services


  • Magnus Gulbrandsen
  • Gry Cecilie Høiland



Public sector innovation, The chain-linked model, Relationship between reserch and innovation, research policy, innovation policy


Many public agencies promote renewal in the public sector through projects that require a productive combination of research and innovation activities. However, the role of research in innovation processes is a neglected theme in the public sector innovation literature. We address this gap through an analysis of five cases from the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration. We find few examples of innovations based directly on research, but several examples of research on innovations and on more complex co-evolutionary processes of the two activities. Research seems to be particularly important for the diffusion and scaling up of innovations. We find that research has an impact on innovation in later phases of the innovation process through the formalisation of practice-based and unsystematic knowledge, codification of experiences, and legitimation to ensure political support and funding. This new conceptualisation contributes to the public sector innovation literature and may help improve policies that set up a rather limited role for research.


Special issue Nordic Journal of Social Research: Public Sector Innovation– Conceptual and Methodological Implications

Guest editors:

Associate Professor Ann Karin Tennås Holmen, University of Stavanger,

Postdoctoral Fellow Maria Røhnebæk, Innland Norway University of applied science,


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How to Cite

Gulbrandsen, M., & Høiland, G. C. (2021). The relationship between research and innovation in the public sector – an analysis of five cases from labour and welfare services . Nordic Journal of Social Research, 12(Special issue), 46–69.

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