Rethinking digital transformation of healthcare: The role of technology and institutions in service innovation: Dissertation

    Research output: ThesisDissertationCollection of Articles


    Due to the mounting prevalence of chronic diseases, increasing demand for expensive treatments and the growing old-age dependency ratio, there is a pressing need to augment the productivity and quality of health and elderly care. Although the potential of digital technologies is widely acknowledged, focusing on technological innovations and incremental improvements originatingfrom the healthcare system does not appear to provide the desired results. Therefore, there is a need for innovation that breaks established rules and practices and enables systemic transformation in healthcare.
    This article-based doctoral thesis builds on four published studies employing abductive case research strategy: a dialogue between theory and empirical analysis. The first two studies were conducted under the framework of European innovation programmes. They explore how digitallyenhanced services improve service productivity in the elderly care setting, and provide insights intoinnovation challenges experienced during a three-year collaborative innovation project. The latter two studies focus on start-ups operating under a start-up business accelerator programme. They increase understanding of the institutional constraints experienced by entrepreneurs when developing innovations that diverge from the prevailing rules of healthcare, and of the ways in which they attempt to change the rules hindering the adoption of innovations.
    The thesis contributes to service research by constructing a more profound understanding of the mechanisms that advance, hinder, enable and constrain service innovation in the field of healthcare. In particular, the thesis contributes to integrating the perspective of institutional entrepreneurship in service innovation, highlighting the importance of actions that contribute tobreaking prevailing 'rules of the game' (i.e. institutions) and creating new ones. In addition, the thesis depicts how digitalization reveals the pervasive role of technology in innovation. Jointly, these contributions advance the synthesis view on service innovation – a view that highlights the importance of both technological and service aspects in innovation.
    The policy and managerial implications of the thesis suggest that, in addition to a complex set of institutions that guide innovation in the field of healthcare, the development context may also have a notable impact on innovation. The institutional structures of collaborative innovation programmes should encourage collaboration outside project boundaries, in order to foster theactors' awareness of the institutional and market environment. Exposing innovation to institutional forces makes it easier to comprehend the necessary institutional change and to develop ways of justifying the change to actors that are vital for its support. The institutional perspective should be more tightly linked to the practice of innovation.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor Degree
    Awarding Institution
    • Aalto University
    • Rajala, Risto , Supervisor, External person
    • Toivonen, Marja, Advisor, External person
    Award date15 Jun 2018
    Print ISBNs978-952-60-8019-2, 978-951-38-8638-7
    Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-8020-8, 978-951-38-8637-0
    Publication statusPublished - 2018
    MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


    • digitalization
    • service innovation
    • innovation challenges
    • institutionalisation
    • healthcare renewal


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