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Professor Per Andersson, Director of the Center for Digital Innovation and Transformation at SSE includes sustainability as a major aspect of his research. The focus is on analysis of how digital transformation supports public service innovation for sustainable development.

Based on digitization, the conversion of analog information in any form into digital form there is an ongoing digitalization, i.e. a rapidly growing use of digital technologies in business and society. As a result we see emergence of digital transformationprocesses in many private firms, public organizations and industries, i.e. a profound and accelerating transformation of activities, processes, competencies and business models. Digital transformation is a megatrend as is the widespread concern for sustainable development. In this ongoing research, in cooperation with Lars-Gunnar Mattsson at Misum, we focus on how digital transformation of public services promotes sustainable development. Previous studies have taken the perspective of private business firms that are involved in service innovation processes, focusing upon their business modelling challenges. In two recent book chapters on the strategic challenges that companies and organizations in all industries and sectors of society are meeting due to digitalization (Andersson and Rosenqvist 2018; Andersson and Mattsson 2018), we argue how both companies and public organizations currently face challenging digital transformation processes. Business actors involved in networks for production, distribution, consumption and use of products and services find that digital transformation provides both opportunities and challenges. Digital transformation that enables public service innovation affect network structures and processes. To develop and implement viable business models becomes a major, and in business fora discussed issue. For the public actor corresponding issues refer to development and implementation of models for effective and efficient service provision. 

The project builds on the assumption that public service innovations aimed at promoting sustainable development should be especially important for public actors for whom providing public services is the major task. The World Economic Forum, for instance argues that opportunities to develop and implement service innovations based on digital transformation should be given a high priority (WEF, 2016). Public service innovation, enabled by digital transformation is an important phenomenon subject to development and implementation of both private business models and of public norms and practices. We investigate the nature of these processes, with the help of cases on digital transformation of public services: for example: city lighting, public transportation, healthcare, and education. The cases all describe early stages of applications of digital transformation and with consequences for societal sustainability.

Results from the case studies of digital transformation in private-public contexts and sustainability have indicated that sustainable development criteria can involve a wide perspective on what types of values are involved compared with a more narrow traditional business model analysis. Of the three main pillars of sustainable development - economic growth, environmental protection, and social equality – the digital transformation studies have addressed mainly the last two. Projects with a focus on the role of digital technologies in eco-city development (eg..Smart Cities) including LED street lights and energy efficient public transportation include publicly formulated environmental sustainability goals. A project which focuses on the implementation of digital technologies in education embraces social sustainability goals associated with social equality as a central driver.  

To balance and coordinate the business and the societal values associated with public service innovations emerge as one common business modelling challenge for private firms. An implication of this is that public actors need to rethink policies in order to participate in the co-creation of service innovations associated with digital transformation: for example, this relates to procurement procedures, service operations, pricing and cost accounting models, infrastructure, and principles for public/private collaboration. The research cases point to the general attribute of public service innovations that resources of several cooperating actors, private and public, that have to find their roles, positions and relationships.


Per Andersson


More on this research in:

Andersson, P. and L-G. Mattsson, (2015),"Service innovations enabled by the “internet of things”", IMP Journal, Vol. 9 Iss 1 pp. 85 – 106 (Best Paper Award 2015)

Andersson, P. & Mattsson, L-G. (2016), “Digitalisation and Service Innovation: The Intermediating Role of Platforms”, chapter 8, in: P. Thilenius et al. (eds.), Extending the Business Network Approach, Palgrave Macmillanpp. 141-158

Andersson, P., & Mattsson, L-G. (2018). Digital Transformation Supporting Public Service Innovation for Sustainable development – Business modelling interacting with “public service provision modelling”. Paper presented at the IMP Annual Conference, Marseille, September 2018

Andersson, P., & Rosenqvist, C. (2018). Strategic Challenges of Digital Innovation and Transformation, (Chapter 1) in: Andersson, P. et al (eds), Managing Digital Transformation,  The Stockholm School of Economics Institute for Research (SIR), Stockholm School of Economics: Stockholm.

Andersson, P., & Mattsson, L-G. (2018). Digital Transformation Supporting Public Service Innovation: Business Model Challenges and Sustainable Development Opportunities, (Chapter 11) in: Andersson, P. et al (eds), Managing Digital Transformation,  The Stockholm School of Economics Institute for Research (SIR), Stockholm School of Economics: Stockholm.



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