In Stockholm, social innovation is a less used term than in our second case study – the city of Malmö (Carrigan and Nordfeldt 2013). Innovation is not part of the policy discourse in Stockholm. The lack of interest in social innovation may appear contradictory, considering the strong emphasis that the steering majority of the local government places on diversity and consumer choice.
Deregulation and legislation on competitive procurement (LOU) and freedom of choice (LOV) have opened windows of opportunity for alternative service producers. So far, these windows have mainly been filled by private for-profit health care companies. This means that there are new providers within the welfare field, but these procurements do not require innovative or new types of services.
The three innovative activities that we have chosen to study in Stockholm, and that are described above, spring from different needs and exemplify different kinds of ideas and approaches, as well as stakeholders. These examples also relate, in different ways, to the local government. The discussion below will focus on the innovations separately, with a final discussion on some common traits. Commonalities will be discussed with a focus on partnership, diffusion and scaling up, and finally, sustainability.
The Filur project is based on a highly topical issue – youth unemployment – and a perceived need to develop a model that is targeted towards young unemployed persons in a marginalised position in relation to the labour market, and also to the education system. These young people are sometimes labelled “young outside”. The Filur project can be described as a new way to deliver service, but within the dominant system. Filur is developed and institutionalised within the public sector, and made possible by EU funding. The model that is used in the Filur project is in itself a “mosaic” that comprises a collection of ideas and methods, which are combined and “translated” into a model that is especially adapted to young unemployed persons. This model works more intensely with the target group and with a higher degree of individually adapted measures. The innovative strands are thus limited to fit in with the dominant “working line” within the activation policy that since the 1990s has been the prevailing approach for labour market policy. Participating in Filur is a requirement to receive social welfare allowances.
The second innovation, Children of Single (Lone) Mothers, is an example of an innovation initiated within the civil society and by an organisation known for its entrepreneurial ways of working. Fryshuset is a Stockholm-based organisation but with networks and contacts in municipalities in different parts of Sweden. As described above, the Swedish welfare system has opened up to alternative producers of welfare services. A parallel development is that during the last few decades civil society organisations have attracted growing interest and have been granted greater legitimacy from local governments. However, this has resulted in a growing rate of social services produced by CSOs but only to a limited degree. However, there are expectations that CSOs can deliver new solutions for unsolved social problems and help to strengthen the welfare system by filling gaps.
One might argue that the project Children of Single (Lone) Mothers is more in line with the traditional role of civil society organisations, namely to focus attention on new needs and new groups with needs that are not covered in other ways. A traditional role of these organisations is to be pioneers and to offer services that are not covered by the public sector. Since the start of the organisation, Fryshuset has worked as a pioneer and entrepreneur within the field of youth policy.
There are elements of advocacy in this innovation. There is a will from workers in the project, from Fryshuset, to raise attention about the issue of child poverty and the situation for unemployed or low-income single mothers. The staff from Fryshuset implements this by cooperation with a university college in Stockholm and by giving lectures and seminars to different stakeholders, including politicians. In this way, there is an ambition to contribute to long-term changes for the target group, both concerning the children and the mothers. The project might also shed light on local needs for child care at “uncomfortable” times – for example, night-time child care. This could be an important basis for single mothers to get a job, although many jobs in occupations that are still female-dominated, within health and social care, have “uncomfortable” working hours. Child care in the evenings and at night is currently on the local political agenda in Stockholm.
The third innovation – Miljardprogrammet – is a citizen initiative started by a local entrepreneur. Miljardprogrammet can be defined as a policy innovation, but it has so far been put into practice only to a limited degree. It has a clear policy orientation and is spread via social media.
The discourses and development lines that have constituted the basis for Miljardprogrammet reflect a political consensus about the need to improve the living conditions in the outer suburbs. The political standpoints on how to do this are thus different. One comprehensive proposal is to promote the building of mixed dwellings both in terms of the physical buildings and of types of ownership. Another suggestion is to move workplaces, such as local administrations, from central districts to outer areas. The problem areas that are pointed out are especially the so-called “Million Homes programme” areas. There is a need for long-term development in these areas. Problems here are often related to the population, for example, lack of language skills and high rates of unemployment. These areas are often defined as “immigrant areas”. At the core of Miljardprogrammet lies a sharp criticism of how decisions about the areas are taken at municipal and state levels. Miljardprogrammet aims to engage people in these areas so they can influence political decisions and their own living conditions. Within this programme, citizen initiatives are encouraged to participate in entrepreneurial activities and co-production. In this way, Miljardprogrammet could lay the groundwork for local innovation, but to what extent and in what ways still remains to see.
Partnerships are a feature of all the innovations, but vary in design and extent. The three cases feature both intra- and inter-organisational cooperation. Filur is mainly based on intra-organisational cooperation between units in public administration, but reaches out to employers in different sectors. Fryshuset’s funding builds on a mix of grants, endowments, and fees for services that are paid by government agencies but also by co-operational partners, such as private for-profit businesses. Fryshuset works with platforms and networks for youth activities and advocacy. Miljardprogrammet is a platform for citizen motivation, which builds on networking and contacts between citizens, politicians and different stakeholders involved in neighbourhood revitalisation.
Scaling up and diffusion
Filur is in itself a result of diffusion, i.e. a mosaic of different inspirations and tangible work methods used in other contexts. In our case study, we found no indications of a desire to spread or scale up this concept. A possible explanation for this is that within the public sector there are no incentives, or time, to “sell” an innovation to other stakeholders/places.
During Fryshuset’s nearly 30-year lifetime, the organisation has had ambitions to spread its know-how and methods to other municipalities. This has partly succeeded, but there have also been many hindrances to spreading locally initiated activities to other places and stakeholders. Fryshuset’s answer to the problem of diffusion has been to build networks with local entrepreneurial stakeholders and initiatives (Engel 2014).
In Miljardprogrammet, scaling up and diffusion are core aspects. The idea is described as a call to unite and inspire people living across the different Million Programme areas in Sweden to take action and start positive processes in their respective neighbourhoods. To spread ideas and inspiration the programme is using social media such as Facebook. At the same time, this means that the programme is dependent on individual engagement and driving forces.
The sustainability of the studied projects is hard to predict and still remains to be seen. The Filur project is described as a success in a report summarising the 3-year duration of the project. This has also been confirmed in an evaluation (Stockholms stad 2013). The work model will therefore be implemented in the ordinary activities of Jobbtorg Stockholm.
Fryshuset is a stable organisation with a range of activities based on needs, so as long as the organisation believes there is a need for these activities, which are not covered by other organisations, they will probably find ways to finance them and continue. One way for Fryshuset to achieve sustainability is through inter-sectoral and multi-sectoral partnerships with the public and the private sector.
Miljardprogrammet is a platform for citizens’ involvement and, therefore, as described above, is heavily dependent on citizen engagement for its maintenance. Therefore, the long-term outcome and sustainability remain to be seen. However, the issues that Miljardprogrammet is addressing will probably remain matters for public debate for the near future.