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Using theory to understand why and how ASC innovations are designed, implemented and spread


We will:

  • investigate how the design, implementation, and spread of different types of innovation in adult social care (ASC) can be understood using insights from theories of innovation

  • develop a theoretically-informed understanding of key innovation processes around important themes

  • bring these together to develop an evidence-based, theory-informed framework for understanding innovation in ASC.


Each workstream will:

  • use the case study descriptions earlier in the project as the basis for theory building

  • explore the role of the themes in influencing the innovation process across the case studies and the extent to which theories of innovation can help understand the findings

  • integrate findings from WP5 on historical perspectives and, where relevant findings from WP4 to reflect more broadly on the role of the support infrastructure

  • collaborate across WSs to develop an evidence-based, theory-informed framework to identify key constructs for designing/implementing innovations, providing a guide for practice, policy and research

  • discuss the framework with the project Advisory Group, the Public Stakeholder Engagement Group and  a wider group of stakeholders through organised seminars and consultation with existing networks

  • produce papers based around each theme; and a final paper presenting the theoretical framework.


WS3a: Knowledge flows and the role of networks and leaders
We will explore flows of knowledge and roles of networks and leaders across the case studies, drawing on theoretical literature to consider: the extent to which these more formal networks support spread of knowledge about innovation, perhaps compared to more informal networks; types of knowledge or evidence about innovations that spread via these networks; the extent to which there is a subgroup of people who appear to be highly engaged in knowledge mobilisation and act as committed knowledge leaders over a sustained period of time (-- or “super knowledge leaders”); and what might explain the behaviour of these knowledge leaders.


This evidence will provide insight into mechanisms and conditions for supporting the spread of innovations.

WS3b: Organisational characteristics
We will focus on how organisations develop and respond to innovation, using the theories outlined to illuminate empirical processes. Key areas to explore are: processes of learning within organisations and structures to support them; how innovation is supported or otherwise by structures within organisations around performance measurement; how organisational cultures influence implementation and consequences of innovation; the extent to which organisations might support the workforce to innovate; and the extent to which research and innovation functions are integrated into organisational structures.


This WS will consider the explanatory power of different theories, and how this may vary by types of innovations and context.

WS3c: Research evidence and research capacity
We will examine research capacity and the role of research evidence across the case studies: whether and how research evidence was studied or contributed to design or implementation of innovation, and who produced it; whether and how the innovation was or is being evaluated, and (if so) whether this was useful given the stage of the innovation journey and influenced further development or spread of the innovation.


This WS will provide insight into the type of research evidence useful at different stages of innovation, with implications for building research capacity in ASC. 

WS3d: Resources and the value proposition
We will examine the resources deployed in our case study innovations and the benefits which different groups of stakeholders believe are being generated for the various beneficiaries (e.g. service users, carers and staff). We will explore to what extent these ideas are based on research and to what extent they influence the decisions and activities around adoption, implementation and spread of the innovation. In this way, we will be able to comment on how and with what evidence the resource-value proposition is constructed across the case studies with implications for policy and practice.


WS3a: Juliette Malley and Ewan Ferlie

WS3b: Annette Boaz and Ewan Ferlie

WS3c: Raphael Wittenberg and Annette Boaz

WS3d: Gerald Wistow and Martin Knapp

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