An emergent sectoral innovation system for healthcare services

Savory, Clive and Fortune, Joyce (2014). An emergent sectoral innovation system for healthcare services. International Journal of Public Sector Management, 27(6) pp. 512–529.



The purpose of this paper is explore, through a case study, and using Pawson and Tilley’s notion of context-mechanism-outcome (CMO) configurations, how a sectoral innovation system for health technologies has developed.

The case study data was collected as part of a large study that looked at technology innovation and adoption in the UK’s National Health Service and was collected using an interpretive case study methodology. Primary data came from interviews and secondary data from published sources, including articles authored by members of the innovation team.

The paper identifies three specific configurations of context, mechanism and outcome that were important in the case and discusses how these contribute to a broader understanding of a healthcare services sectoral innovation system.

Research limitations/implications
Research conducted through a single case study is open to the criticism that its findings are not generalisable but it has offered an economical way of gaining a deep description of a situation and an understanding of the contextual factors affecting a phenomenon. The paper presents a refined model for understanding sectoral innovation systems that though primarily rooted within the healthcare care sector has potential for application in other sectors, especially those that encompass a significant public-sector component.

Practical implications
The paper’s findings and conclusions have relevance to healthcare service innovation policy development. The findings will also be useful to professionals responsible for innovation projects and their support within the sector.

The paper makes an important contribution to the understanding of a sectoral innovation system for healthcare services as well as refining a general model of sectoral innovation systems.

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