INNOVATION & DEVELOPMENT

ORGANIZATIONAL ANTHROPOLOGY & USER DRIVEN INNOVATION

Organizational anthropology aims to qualitatively examine the structure and culture characterising an organisation. The purpose is to uncover the formal as well as informal norms guiding everyday life in the organisation. It concerns both the structural incentives affecting action and the values that may support or undermine change.

Corporate culture consists of the management’s strategy, vision, mission and values (top-down). Below the surface, a more informal organizational culture exists that has emerged over time as a result of the behaviour and socialization of individuals in the organisation. Ideally, the two ‘cultures’ should coincide, and when working toward that end, employees may be involved as an active resource. An employee based organizational analysis helps to identify the strengths and limitations of an organisation and can point to key areas of development.

Employees in the public sector are the link between the public institutions and the citizens. Involving employees in processes of change can form the starting point of an innovation of that relationship – e.g. between health care institutions and patients/relatives, between schools and pupils/parents or between a Council’s technical services and the citizens of a city. Employee involvement can play a central role in creative development phases. Also, their commitment is decisive to the implementation of changes – not only structurally, but also in the organizational culture with new mind sets being required.

Innovation is not a theoretical concept. It is the actual behaviour of people taking place against a backdrop of specific incentives and ways of thinking. Innovation is about generating new ideas and transforming them into practices and attitudes having documented value.