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Reading: Lessons From The Field: Workplace Innovation within a Care Ecosystem Context


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Lessons From The Field: Workplace Innovation within a Care Ecosystem Context


Ezra Dessers

Ku Leuven, BE
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A major challenge worldwide is understanding care redesign for greater integration at the  ecosystem level (i.e. at the level beyond single organizations and formal networks), and practical methods for participative designing within that hugely challenging context. (Mohr & Dessers, 2019).


Significant improvement in care integration does not happen without Workplace Innovation. Workplace innovation is defined as the implementation of new and combined interventions in the fields of work organisation, human resource management and supportive technologies, aimed at simultaneous improvement of organisational performance and quality of working life of employees (Pot, 2011). Many countries in Europe and beyond have installed programs stimulating workplace innovation; not only within, but also between organisations (Pot, 2011).

Our research seeks to further the understanding of workplace innovation at the ecosystem level. Fifteen cases of workplace innovation, towards greater care integration, were selected from 8 countries – UK, Canada, USA, Belgium, Netherlands, Bulgaria and Singapore. The cases were analyzed for thematic conclusions about workplace innovation lessons for care ecosystems. This presentation will share highlights from a forthcoming chapter on workplace innovation, as applied to ecosystem level care design, to be published in 2020 in the ‘Palgrave Handbook of Workplace Innovation’, and our new Springer book ‘Designing Integrated Care Ecosystems’ (Mohr & Dessers, 2019).


From the analysis we derived information on design principles, elements, steps and general practice challenges, and were able to develop a prototype workplace innovation framework for care ecosystems.


To meaningfully move forward we must be able to move beyond, what Goodwin (2019) refers to as widely published truisms, such as ‘teamwork is essential’. Our findings show the potential of workplace innovation at the ecosystem level for providing practical methodologies that enable co-creation among a vast array of ecosystem actors. 

Lessons learned

Based on the collected data, we formulate 7 workplace innovation lessons from the field to guide better practice: The Ecosystem Perspective Lesson; The Workplace Innovation Perspective Lesson; The Framing Lesson; The Engagement Lesson; The Joint Improvement Lesson; The Challenge/Possibility Ratio Lesson; and the Organisations within Ecosystems Lesson.

Limitations & future research 

Following this explorative study of cases selected from an open call for book chapters, more systematic and comparative research, focused on specific aspects (including involvement of people, implementation steps, and outcomes) is needed.

Goodwin, N. (2019). Improving Integrated Care: Can Implementation Science Unlock the ‘Black Box’ of Complexities? International Journal of Integrated Care, 19(3), 1–3.

Mohr, B. J., & Dessers, E. (Eds.). (2019). Designing Integrated Care Ecosystems. A Socio-Technical Perspective. Springer International. [Expected publication date: December 2019]

Pot, F. (2011). Workplace innovation for better jobs and performance. International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, 60(4), 404–415.

How to Cite: Dessers E. Lessons From The Field: Workplace Innovation within a Care Ecosystem Context. International Journal of Integrated Care. 2021;21(S1):73. DOI:
Published on 01 Sep 2021.


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