Innovation in elderly care organizations : process and attitudes
The importance of innovation as an academic research field and for society in general is stated, and existing definitions of the concept discussed. A new definition is proposed emphasizing the social nature of innovation and distinguishing it from creativity and non-innovative change. The innovation research literature is reviewed in relation to the two main approaches: 'antecedent factors' and 'process'. Conclusions from these reviews, and from a preliminary study of experiences of innovation, guide the design of the main research program. Three field studies are described. The first, carried out in two Homes for the Elderly, examines the sequence of the innovation process, influences on it, and staff attitudes towards it. Data are collected through semi-structured interviews, incorporating verbally administered questionnaires. Findings regarding the effect of involvement in the innovation process upon attitudes towards innovations are followed up in the second study, again in two Homes for the Elderly. A longitudinal questionnaire design is used. The third study is in a psycho-geriatric ward, using a participant observation methodology to follow the development of innovations as they occur. An overview of all the findings is presented in the final discussion chapter. Three areas are highlighted. (1) Attitudes to innovation: the primary importance of involvement in change processes is emphasized. (2) Influences on the innovation process: differences in perceptions according to phase of the process, and between staff groups, are interpreted in terms of individual and group role in the process. Possibilities of attributional bias are also raised. (3) The development of the process: the problems in identifying discrete stages are discussed and variations in the process for different innovation types are described. Building on these findings, especially in the third area, a general model of the innovation process is proposed. Its implications for future research are outlined.