Relational agency in elderly care work: from codestruction of value towards active cocreation of a good life

Tiina Tuominen, Lars Fuglsang, Mervi Hasu

Publikation: KonferencebidragPaperForskningpeer review


In this paper, we aim to understand how elderly care work is changing alongside the introduction of new co-creative frameworks and practices. The ideas of value co-creation and service co-production are expanding rapidly to new service areas also in the public sector. The elderly care context may pose specific challenges for co-creative frameworks due to the physical and mental conditions of the elderly users. We argue that to understand how cocreation fits to these contexts, researchers need to develop a relational view on the co-creation of value between care workers and elderly users. We use the concept of ‘relational agency’ to discuss how the interests and capabilities of the workers and users to co-create value are relationally constructed, and how these agentic properties contribute to the manner in which value is co-created. We demonstrate the usefulness of this approach by analysing the cocreative frameworks and patterns of relational agency in three different elderly care contexts. The findings provide new knowledge about the contextual, relational nature of value cocreation and invite further research to reveal the patterns of relational agency in different contexts of public service provision.
Antal sider33
StatusUdgivet - 2017
Begivenhed33rd Egos Colloquium: The Good Organization. Aspirations. Interventions. Struggles - Copenhagen Business School, Copenhagen, Danmark
Varighed: 6 jul. 20178 jul. 2017


Konference33rd Egos Colloquium
LokationCopenhagen Business School
AndetThe Good Organization is often depicted as the efficient organization – a particular means to achieve some pre-given end or purpose. But efficiency alone can hardly guarantee that an organization will be a force for the greater good, public as well as private. To that end, other ideals and aspirations have been frequently advocated: diversity, care, excellence, sustainability, health, play, transparency and responsibility, to name but some of the most obvious. Organizations structured according to these ideals, it is argued, can and should result in better products and services, better people, better workplaces and better societies. <br/><br/>The Good Organization is both a very tempting project and one inherently ridden with tensions: sustainability may partly function as a compensation for mindless overconsumption, diversity can be seen as a tokenistic attempt to remedy effects of marginalization, health may entail new forms of exclusion and discipline for the unhealthy, and playfulness potentially undermines both personal and professional integrity. More generally, the Organization structured around one overarching Good may end up as something akin to totalitarianism, an organization from which dissent, argument and conflict are excluded in favour of conformity, uniformity and compliance...<br/> <br/>Shaped by Scandinavian welfare traditions, the Danish organizational landscape is often deemed radically benevolent to high degrees of inclusion and participation as well as leading developments in the areas of work-life balance, sustainability, equality, transparency and other contemporary markers of The Good Organization. At the same time, a distinctive Danish tradition of compromise and glossing over antagonisms might mask the conflicts inherent to the pursuit of The Good Organization.<br/> <br/>For its part, the Copenhagen Business School (CBS) has cultivated an interdisciplinary approach to the role of business in society, implicitly encouraging but also interrogating the idea of The Good Organization. At the same time, though, CBS’s self-description as ‘the Business University’ is itself an ongoing compromise in the continuing antagonisms besetting many business schools in one way or another, between their loyalty to business interests and engagement with societal issues. At CBS we appreciate the opportunity to celebrate our 100 year anniversary by hosting the EGOS Colloquium in 2017 and explicitly reflecting on the aspirations, interventions, and struggles of The Good Organization

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