• Keld Rasmussen
  • Karsten Sommer
  • Katrine Hasager
4. term, Public Administration and Social Science (Master Programme)
The purpose of this study is to compare successful and unsuccessful implementation projects of Portable Digital Assistants (PDA) in the municipal senior citizen home care services. The study is based on a detected research gap within the field of public sector digitalization. Different change perspectives are utilized to explain the widely differing results of the change processes. Two municipalities in Northern Jutland, Hjørring and Frederikshavn, are used in a comparative case study design.

The study is conducted as a most similar case design, and the two municipalities are for that reason mainly chosen based on the similarities on a wide variety of variables. A total of 11 interviews have been conducted covering the strategic, tactical and operational administrative levels as well as the concerned departments.
In Hjørring the result of the implementation yielded positive results with regard to the PDAs and further action has been taken to implement netbooks among the care assistants. In Frederikshavn the PDAs are no longer in use because of a decision by the city council based on an evaluation among the care assistants.

The first part of the analysis uses John P. Kotter’s eight-stage model as a framework to identify the main differences in the choices made throughout the change processes, and explain the widely different outcomes of the two projects. Afterwards, Kotter’s framework is complemented by two other change perspectives that are not included or at least not fully explained within Kotter’s eight-stage model. These are: (1) Change in the context of a public organization, and (2) the inclusion of the care assistants in the change process.

Through the study several differences between the cases are found which can explain the disparate outcome of the PDA implementations. In the initial phase of the project, the main difference was in the presentation of the project by mid-level managers to the district leaders and care assistants. In the successful case, Hjørring, the project was introduced as a necessary project, which would improve the quality of the care services and in the long run could help meet the challenges of demographic development, while at the unsuccessful case, Frederikshavn, the project was presented as a voluntary offer. The study indicates, that the big difference in the presentation of the project was a significant cause to the differing ability to secure benefits of the PDA implementation.

Furthermore, investigation showed an internal conflict in the unsuccessful case between the head of the elderly department and the head of the IT department in how they perceived the possible benefits from the use of the PDAs. Finally, there was a significant difference in how the initial resistance against change from the care assistants was handled in the two municipalities, which may have played a role in the perception of the PDAs.

Based on existing theory and the findings in the study several recommendations for practitioners engaged in PDA implementation projects have been created. The main recommendations are to:
− Have a clear purpose of the project, and why it is important.
− Generate dialogue with the care assistants
− Pay attention to problems, and inform about the solutions
− Make sure top management is behind the change project
Publication date21 Mar 2011
Number of pages136
ID: 49403310