Co-design in the prison service: A learning perspective on employee-driven innovation

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Recently, a considerable literature has grown up around the theme of public service innovation, including co-design approaches and how to leverage the knowledge and experiences of various actors. Despite the growing interest in co-design and the effects of engaging citizens (or users), far too little attention has been paid to the potential influence and learning dynamics of i) inclusion of user perspectives and ii) of utilising co-design approaches on employees’ practice, learning, and innovation. Through the theoretical lens of ‘boundary encounters’, this article offers a learning perspective on the influence of co-design approaches on employee-driven innovation. It reports the findings from an exploratory case study focusing on the role of co-design approaches for enhancing employee-driven innovation in a prison context. The analysis shows that including user perspectives creates strange perspectives on familiar routines, and that reflective and transformative learning dynamics emerge in sequences of experience prototypes and storytelling. It is argued that co-design approaches hold potential for employees to reframe meaning and innovate practice and can enhance individual and organisational learning.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management
Issue number4-5
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • innovation


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