Background and activities

Associate professor at the Department of Industrial Economics and Technology Management, Faculty of Economics and Management, NTNU - Norwegian university of science and technology.


Sociologist with a Ph.D. management 




Implementation in complex organisations

Impact research

Organisational case studies

Institutional theory

Integrated health care services

Empirical experience: Health- and welfare systems in Norway


PhD title: Frontline policy implementation in public organizations - a sociological analysis of the 'how and why' of implementation gaps


Selected publications

Organizing professional work and services through institutional complexity – how institutional logics and differences in organizational roles matter.

Høiland, G. C. L. and Klemsdal, L. (2022) ‘Organizing professional work and services through institutional complexity – how institutional logics and differences in organizational roles matter’, Human Relations, 75(2), pp. 240–272. doi: 10.1177/0018726720970274.


How is the complexity of contemporary professional work and services organized differently by management at the strategic level and professionals at the operational level? And what are the implications for managing this complexity? Drawing on literatures on institutional complexity, organizational roles and the analyses of case study data from interviews, observations and documents at a large public service provider in Norway, this article advances the understanding of management in complex organizations and makes the following three contributions to the institutional logics literature. First, we show how multiple institutional logics have different functions at strategic and operational levels, resembling a dynamic interplay in organizing professional work and services. Second, we show how these differences in handling multiple logics are contingent upon the different roles of the strategic managers and operational professionals. Finally, we advance the understanding of what institutional complexity may involve in organizations by disclosing how the significant conflicts stem not only from the presence of multiple logics, but also from differences within the organizations in how multiple logics are handled. Our findings have implications for the planning and management of organizational design and implementation strategies and demonstrate the utility of the institutional complexity perspective for managing complexity in contemporary organizations.


The relationshisp between research an innovation in the public sector - an analysis of five cases from labour and welfare services.

Gulbrandsen, M. and Høiland, G. C. (2021) “The relationship between research and innovation in the public sector – an analysis of five cases from labour and welfare services ”, Nordic Journal of Social Research, 12(Special issue), pp. 46–69. doi: 10.7577/njsr.3687.


Many public agencies promote renewal in the public sector through projects that require a productive combination of research and innovation activities. However, the role of research in innovation processes is a neglected theme in the public sector innovation literature. We address this gap through an analysis of five cases from the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration. We find few examples of innovations based directly on research, but several examples of research on innovations and on more complex co-evolutionary processes of the two activities. Research seems to be particularly important for the diffusion and scaling up of innovations. We find that research has an impact on innovation in later phases of the innovation process through the formalisation of practice-based and unsystematic knowledge, codification of experiences, and legitimation to ensure political support and funding. This new conceptualisation contributes to the public sector innovation literature and may help improve policies that set up a rather limited role for research.


Frontline Policy Implementation in Public Organizations : A Sociological Analysis of the ‘how and Why’ of Implementation Gaps

Høiland, G. C. (2018). PhD Thesis no. 416. Universitetet i Stavanger.


Background and aims Innovation is promoted in politics and public service organizations as an essential factor for meeting the demands of society. How new policies or strategies can be implemented as intended in complex multi-level public organizations is a major practical and academic puzzle. We know from extensive research that there is often a gap between central policy formulations and their implementation in practice (Hill & Hupe, 2003; Hupe, 2014) created by frontline workers exercise of discretion and their outcomes (Lipsky, 1980, 2010). However, there is a need for empirical research on the ‘how and why’ of street-level implementation (Hupe, 2014) such as ‘how the workers actually arrive at their decisions’ (Goldman & Foldy, 2015 p.169), as well as the use of multi-leveled perspectives to investigate the problem of implementation gaps (Hupe, 2014). The thesis aims to investigate mismatches between centrally directed policy measures and their implementation on the operational level. Introducing the concept of ‘resistance-driven innovation’, the thesis challenges the normative tendency of viewing implementation gaps as implementation failures (Hupe & Hill, 2016).


Resistance-driven Innovation? Frontline Public Welfare Workers’ Coping with Top- down Implementation

Høiland, G. and Willumsen, E. (2018) “Resistance-driven Innovation? Frontline Public Welfare Workers’ Coping with Top- down Implementation”, Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies, 8(2). doi: 10.18291/njwls.v8i2.106153.

Employee-based innovation researchers point to the important role of welfare workers in public service innovations. Bureaucratic and New Public Management inspired managerial agendas, still widely present in Nordic welfare organizations have been tied to an increase in feelings of inau- thenticity and use of coping strategies by welfare workers. At the same time, post-NPM principles of collaboration and service tailoring are more in line with professional values of welfare workers. Drawing on a critical realist informed case study comprising qualitative interviews and observations in the Norwegian public welfare and employment services, we describe types of revision and resis- tance practices used by frontline employees when faced with top-down implementation instructions, linking them to different types of innovations. The article adds to literatures on employee-based innovation by conceptualizing resistance practices as value-motivated resistance-driven innovation that may have a function of calibrating public value creation in welfare organizations submerged in bureaucratic and NPM-inspired managerial regimes.

Scientific, academic and artistic work

A selection of recent journal publications, artistic productions, books, including book and report excerpts. See all publications in the database

Journal publications

Part of book/report

  • Høiland, Gry Cecilie; Willumsen, Elisabeth. (2015) Innovasjon for mer integrerte tjenester : samarbeid på tvers i arbeidsinkludering. Sosial innovasjon : fra politikk til tjenesteutvikling.


  • Høiland, Gry Cecilie. (2018) Frontline policy implementation in public organizations. A sociological analysis of the 'how and why' of implementation gaps. 2018. ISBN 978-82-7644-796-5.