Wellbeing services counties need the ability to predict the future – the preparatory phase provided the basis for the emergence of new dynamic capabilities

Dynamic capacities could help wellbeing services counties to modernise and respond to changes in their operating environment. Juha Post's doctoral dissertation at the University of Vaasa found that the preparatory phase of the counties did not in itself generate new dynamic capabilities, but did provide a basis for their emergence.

The wellbeing services counties, which began operating at the beginning of the year, are a new type of public administration in Finland. They have to balance traditional social and health care models with the need to reform in response to the changing environment. In addition, there are high expectations for the wellbeing services counties to address the challenges facing the Finnish social and healthcare system.

In responding to the challenges of the environment, wellbeing services counties are supported by dynamic capabilities, which are the skills of an organisation to combine, build and redefine its internal and external capabilities.

– Dynamic capabilities can be, for example, an organisation's ability to change the way it uses its resources or its established processes, says Juha Post, who will publicly defend his doctoral dissertation at the University of Vaasa on 14 April.

For his dissertation on social and health management, Post studied how dynamic capabilities emerged and evolved in the context of welfare reform. The study focused on four welfare regions: South Ostrobothnia, West Uusimaa, North Karelia and North Ostrobothnia.

– I divided the 21 counties into four categories according to the stage of preparation and selected one region from each category for further analysis, says Post.

The change process was too short to generate dynamic capabilities

According to the dissertation study, the preparation of the wellbeing services counties created the conditions for the emergence of the underlying factors of dynamic capabilities, but the change process was so short that dynamic capabilities were not created or developed through the change process alone.

However, the preparatory process did create the preconditions for the emergence of dynamic capabilities in the wellbeing services counties in the future.

In his research, Post identified the factors that make up dynamic capabilities. He divided them into cultural factors and structural factors.

– In the case of wellbeing services counties, structural factors such as organisational structure and strategy were identified to the extent that they could form the basis of dynamic capabilities. In contrast, cultural factors such as the use of employee skills and organisational learning need a longer preparatory phase to develop dynamic capabilities, says Post.

The need to be proactive – not just reactive

According to Post's research, welfare regions now need time to finalise their prepared solutions before assessing how they work in practice.

– The key now is to reform the way they operate and how they do it successfully. In changing operating environments, organisations need to be able to predict change, not just react to what has already happened. Wellbeing services counties need the courage to change and to predict the future, says Post.

There has been limited research on dynamic capabilities in the public sector, mainly focusing on what kind of dynamic capabilities organisations need to cope with change. The study conducted by Post examined the types of dynamic capabilities that can emerge and develop in the context of organisational change. This is important because the social and healthcare environment will continue to change and dynamic capabilities could help wellbeing services counties to manage change better.

The dissertation was conducted using qualitative research methods. The data was collected through observation, document analysis and thematic interviews with senior management.

Doctoral dissertation

Post, Juha (2023) Dynaamisten kyvykkyyksien syntyminen ja kehittyminen hyvinvointialuevalmistelun yhteydessä: Kyvykkyysperusteinen näkökulma julkishallinnon organisaation muutosprosessiin. Acta Wasaensia 506. Doctoral dissertation. Vaasan yliopisto / University of Vaasa.
Publication pdf

Public defence

The public examination of M.Sc., LLM Juha Post’s doctoral dissertation “Dynaamisten kyvykkyyksien syntyminen ja kehittyminen hyvinvointialuevalmistelun yhteydessä: Kyvykkyysperusteinen näkökulma julkishallinnon organisaation muutosprosessiin” will be held on Friday 14 April 2023 at noon at the University of Vaasa, Auditorium Wolff.

Professor Harri Laihonen (University of Eastern Finland) will act as the opponent and Professor Harri Jalonen as the custos. The public defence will be held in Finnish.


Further information

Juha Post, juha.post@ami.fi

Juha Post was born in 1982 in Eskilstuna, Sweden. He graduated from Rauman yhteislyseon lukio upper secondary school in 2001. Post graduated with a Master's degree in Economics and Business Administration in 2008 from the Turku School of Economics and a Master's degree in Law in 2013 from the University of Turku. During his career, he has worked as senior legal advisor at different Finnish government ministries, Director of Administration of the City of Lapua and Director of Administration of the Vaasa Hospital District. He currently lives in Helsinki and is the Administrative Director of the Ami Foundation.

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