Supporting service innovation via evaluation: a future oriented, systemic and multi-actor approach

Kirsi Hyytinen

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


The most urgent problems of our times – the environmental sustainability for example – are complex and systemic in nature. They cannot be solved via individual technologies or services but a combination of technological and service-based novelties, and collaboration between multiple actors, is required. It is also necessary to understand that the creation and dissemination of innovations depend on the dynamics of the system in which innovation efforts are carried out. This systemic nature of innovation and the complex societal problems in the background are the starting points of the dissertation. This dissertation studies evaluation as a supporting practice in the context of innovation. It responds to the current evaluation challenge which has been noted within both general and service-based innovation research, and within evaluation research. The core problem is that traditional evaluation practices do not support innovation because the systemic perspective is neglected in the targets, and the implementation of evaluation does not take into account its dynamic nature. The dissertation suggests an alternative with two main aims. Firstly, it broadens the view on innovation as a target of evaluation: besides technological novelties, service, social and system innovations are included. Secondly, it develops a new type of evaluation approach which supports innovation in the systemic context. The new evaluation approach builds on the basic ideas of developmental evaluation, and strengthens it with three broad perspectives: futures view, systems view and multi-actor view. A futures view links evaluation with innovation, whose essence is 'making something for tomorrow'. A systems view helps to identify the dynamic interlinkages between different factors in the target of evaluation. Finally, a multi-actor view creates understanding of the forces that make innovations to happen, spread and gain foothold. The approach is further developed in the empirical context of energy and the environment. A Finnish innovation policy actor – a Strategic Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation (SHOK) – and its programmes, is used as a case example. The methodology of the dissertation is qualitative. The empirical application concretises how the approach can be implemented in practice and how the different perspectives and related methodologies support innovation. A futures view, concretised with foresight methodology, provides understanding of the future prospects of innovative energy services. A systems view, concretised with the integration of multi-criteria analysis and dynamic modelling, brings to the fore the multifaceted impacts of a new environmental data platform. A multi-actor view reveals the collaborative and interactive process in the development and implementation of innovation programmes.
Translated title of the contributionArviointi palveluinnovaatioiden tukena: tulevaisuussuuntautunut, systeeminen ja monitoimijainen lähestymistapa
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Järvenpää, Eila, Supervising Professor
  • Toivonen, Marja, Thesis Advisor, External person
Print ISBNs978-952-60-7261-6, 978-951-38-8494-9
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-7260-9, 978-951-38-8493-2
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • service innovation
  • evaluation
  • impact assessment
  • social innovation
  • systemic change
  • combining methods
  • environmental and energy sector


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