Jacob Torfing: "The first time I had to supervise a group at RUC, I was completely stunned"

Political scientist Jacob Torfing has left a concrete tangible mark on the welfare society with his research on public sector innovation and public-private cooperation. He applied to Roskilde University as a young researcher because there was room for new ideas and entrepreneurship, and he has used that space to build one of the university's strong research environments, The Roskilde School of Governance. And he still considers it a joy to follow the students' project work.
Portræt af professor Jacob Torfing
Professor Jacob Torfing believes that excellent research is what will give RUC more clout in the next decade.


Where do you feel you have made the biggest difference with your research?

- In fact, my good colleagues and I were among the first to research public sector innovation, and through that we have helped create a whole new innovation agenda in municipalities. We conducted a major strategic research project from 2009 to 2013, CLIPS, which resulted in the government and Local Government Denmark (KL) establishing a Centre for Public Innovation, which has now become the National Centre for Public-Private Sector Innovation. It was a proposal I made as an extension of the CLIPS project, and then I simply received a call from some ministry people asking what it would cost and how to do it. So it has really helped to transform the public sector.

- I am particularly interested in how public sector and private partners – both companies, citizens and civil society organisations – can work together to create new and better solutions for society. Ultimately, it’s about finding ways to strengthen democracy by bringing more parties into the conversation, because our democracy is currently under threat and under pressure from many sides.


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“When I came here as a young researcher, I was supported in my ideas and enthusiasm in a completely different way than I had experienced elsewhere – there were really good opportunities to get something started."

About Jacob Torfing

  • Researcher on how to organise, manage and lead the public sector.
  • He originally graduated in Political Science from Aarhus University and did a Master and a PhD at the University of Essex in England. He was already very interested in the transformation of the welfare state that took place with the major reforms of the 1990s, and how cooperation between the state, the market and civil society can bring about change in the public sector, and in society generally.
  • He joined Roskilde University in 1995 and co-founded the Centre for Democratic Network Governance, now the Roskilde School of Governance. He is the director of the centre, which has a strong international profile and has been the setting for a number of major collective research projects.