Book Review: Innovation and Culture in Public Services: The Case of Independent Living by Steven Demello & Peder Inge Furseth.

Author:Quartaroli, Tina A.
Position:Book review
 
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Demello, Steven, and Peder Inge Furseth. Innovation and Culture in Public Services: The Case of Independent Living. Northampton: Edward Elgar, 2016. xii + 182 pages. Hardcover, $110.00.

In Innovation and Culture in Public Services: The Case of Independent Living, health technology researcher, Steven Demello, and leadership and innovation strategy researcher and professor, Peder Inge Furseth, examine the relationship between innovative technology and the larger culture. In particular, Demello and Furseth use the example of health technology innovation developed for the benefit of older adults, as well as persons with disabilities living independently, to illustrate their thesis that "culture"--the "customs, arts, social institutional, and achievements of a particular nation, people or other social group" (p. 3)--is the primary determinant of successful innovation and integration of ground-breaking or disruptive technology within collective social groups.

Demello and Furseth assert that understanding certain culturally-defined attitudes and behaviors, specifically attitudes about the role of government in society and the willingness to try new technologies, is key to successful innovation in public services. They begin with an analysis of the United States, Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, and Japan, looking at five major characteristics of each: attitudes about the role of government, overall health and rates of disability, status of technologies already in place, whether innovation and service delivery are funded privately or publicly, and the current state of state-supported innovation and adoption.

The core of Demello and Furseth's analysis rests in the use of what they term the Service Innovation Triangle, or the SIT model, which is a multi-layered, business-based framework of variables designed to determine innovation outcome, aid in policy decision-making, and encourage successful innovation. To test the SIT model for usefulness in constructing integrated business models to meet the unique needs of each "culture" or country, the authors use data from an internet survey of approximately 1200, 50-to-60 year old respondents residing in the target cultures. They look at a variety of socio-cultural attitudes related to independent living such as expectations of government responsibility, consumer confidence in needs-based service provision, family caregiving expectations, technology use, privacy concerns regarding in-home technologies, and...

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