Making bottom-up and top-down processes meet in public innovation

Eveliina Saari (Corresponding Author), Mikko Lehtonen, Marja Toivonen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Innovations in an organisation derive from multiple sources. In the public sector, users and the policy sphere provide important but often unconnected impulses for innovation. These impulses are transmitted to the organisation by grassroots employees who interact with users and managers who implement policy requirements. The paper examines the actors and activities that coordinate bottom-up and top-down initiatives and promote their development into innovations. It creates a theoretical framework that combines the views of employee-driven innovation and strategic reflexivity and supplements them with an analysis of coordination in innovation processes. The functioning of this framework is illustrated in the context of children's day care services. The results highlight the central role of middle managers and provide new knowledge regarding their 'bridging' activities in innovation. The adjustment of bottom-up and top-down processes requires the personal involvement of managers, and the creation of communication arenas, networks and mediating tools.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-344
JournalThe Service Industries Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • service innovation
  • employee-driven innovation
  • strategic reflexivity
  • public services


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