Implementing organisation and management innovations in Swedish healthcare: lessons from a comparison of 12 cases

John Øvretveit*, Magna Andreen-Sachs, Jan Carlsson, Helena Gustafsson, Johan Hansson, Christina Keller, Susana Lofgren, Pamela Mazzocato, Sara Tolf, Mats Brommels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to compare the implementation of 12 different organisation and management innovations (OMIs) in Swedish healthcare, to discover the generic and specific factors important for successful healthcare improvement change in a public health system. Design/methodology/approach: Longitudinal cross-case comparison of 12 case studies was employed, where each case study used a common framework for collecting data about the process of change, the content of the change, the context, and the intermediate and final outcomes. Findings: Clinical leaders played a more important part in the development of these successful service innovations than managers. Strategies for and patterns of change implementation were found to differ according to the type of innovation. Internal organisational context factors played a significant role in the development of nearly all, but external factors did not. "Developmental evolution" better described the change process than "implementation". Research limitations/implications: The 12 cases were all of relatively successful change processes: some unsuccessful examples would have provided additional testing of the hypotheses about what would predict successful innovation which were used in the case comparison. The cross-case comparative hypothesis testing method allows systematic comparison if the case data are collected using similar frameworks, but this approach to management research requires considerable resources and coordination. Practical implications: Management innovations that improve patient care can be carried out successfully by senior clinicians, under certain circumstances. A systematic approach is important both for developing and adapting an innovation to a changing situation. A significant amount of time was required for all involved, which could be reduced by "fast-tracking" approval for some types of change. Originality/value: This is the first empirical report comparing longitudinal and contextualised findings from a number of case studies of different organisational and management healthcare innovations. The findings made possible explanations for success factors and useful practical recommendations for conditions needed to nurture such innovation in public healthcare.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-257
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Health, Organisation and Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Change management
  • Comparative research
  • Health care
  • Health organization and management
  • Implementation
  • Innovation
  • Mixed methods
  • Public health
  • Quality improvement
  • Sweden


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