Academic qualification

Ph d in social work, Lund University, 1995
Associate Professor in Social Work, Lund University, 2001
Professor in Social Work, Linnaeus University, 2010
Professor in Social Work, Lund University, 2011

Recent employment

Professor in Social Work, Lund University.
Professor in Social Work at Linnaeus University.


Postgraduate studies in social work

I have been in charge of six courses within postgraduate studies in social work at the universities of Linnaeus University (former Växjö) and Lund University: Scientific introduction course in social work (on three occasions), Case study as a research method and two courses focusing on evaluation. At present I supervise five doctoral students and four have finished their dissertations successfully.

Between 2008-2011 I was in charge of the Swedish Research School in Social Work which is organized as a network between the 11 universities and colleges that at present provide postgraduate studies in social work.


External grants the last five years where I am the responsible applicant:: National Board of Health and Welfare 2009-2011: ”National evaluation of homelessness” (with Hans Swärd, Marcus Knutagård, Shari Granlöf, Lund University and Marie Nordfeldt, Ersta Sköndal College) 2 900 000 Swedish National Board of Institutional Care 2010-2013: ”The way from investigation to intervention” (with Sofia Enell, Lnu) 1 500 000 The City of Stockholm Research Department 2012-2013: ”Single system design” (with Ann Ottengrim, Lnu) 250 000 The Swedish Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority 2014-2016: ”Violence in close relationships – the organization of local evidence” (with Cecilia Kjellgren and Lotta Agevall-Gross, Lnu) 2 200 000

Areas of Research

In my research I focus at the production and dissemination of knowledge, social innovations and the organization of social work. As a professor I am in charge of the postgraduate education at the Linnaeus University in Social Work being the examiner and taking part of several administrative boards. My earliest research and my dissertation focused social planning and I tried to answer how come a reform about planning gained so few results when spoken about with such an emphasis. Those studies demonstrate the principles for the use and non-use of knowledge; they show that knowledge management provides strategies for actors in an institutionalized field. If you want to understand the use of knowledge principles, you have to take an interest in how ideology and politics help to shape our opportunities in that area. This is a theme that recurs in my studies on evaluation, see below.

In recent years research has been concentrated on the theory, method and dissemination of evaluation, quality assurance and evidence. Empirically I have studied evaluation texts, evaluators and users of evaluation in the Swedish municipalities and in the Swedish church as well as the implementation of evidence-based principles in social work. The research is focused on the relationship between science and politics as well as the evaluation practice, direction and function. The Work at Linnaeus University on studies of evaluation as a phenomenon has been made possible through external funding. The evaluation methodology “Single Case Design” is an example where a grant has funded a PhD student part-time. A recently started study focuses the local evidence at the work of domestic violence. The project aims to investigate the development of interventions and actors' strategies in the application of evidence-based practice in two municipalities that have implemented processes and risk-assessment instruments but with different kinds of organization. We aim at answering questions about the relationship between organizational forms and the designs of interventions and what mechanisms may explain the development of practitioners in the field "Domestic violence".

Research on the phenomena of evaluation is a main topic, yet I conduct evaluations. Recently I have concluded an immense nation-wide evaluation of the Swedish programme against homelessness based on a grant from the Swedish board of health and welfare where I have worked together with four researchers. The evaluation is organized as a program-theory evaluation combined with a study of mechanisms.

A recently presented work has focused on innovations in a comparative survey of excluding mechanisms in Sweden and Denmark. The aim has partly been to try to explain the scope and the application of empowerment oriented methods and to examine the innovation concept's applicability on complex social problems. A fourth central area is the organization of social work, especially in relation to excluded groups. I have led a number of local studies about homelessness and housing. An important aim has been to examine patterns of categorization processes of clients within organizations whose commission is to solve social problems among the society's most marginalized citizens: homeless, persons with mental illness and drug abusers.


Since the end of the nineties I have been charging 2-300 seminars and participatory work-shops like open space, future workshops and future search as an independent consultant. This includes giving lectures, supervision and educating in those methods.


Director Graduate School of Social Work 2008-2011
Member Advisory Board, CTA, Malmö University 2010-2013
Member of the research college of Social Work, Växjö University, 2003-2010 Member of the Faculty Board of Postgraduate Studies, Linnaeus University, 2010-2012
Substitute, Faculty Board Associate Professor - Professor, Linnaeus University, 2010-2012
Chairman, Research college of social work, Linnaeus University 2012-present Member of the Board of the Swedish Evaluation Society, 2010-2012 President, the Swedish Evaluation Society 2012-2013.


Article in journal (Refereed)

Conference paper (Refereed)

Chapter in book (Refereed)

  • Denvall, V. (2013). Avlärande. Förändringens entreprenörer och tröghetens agenter : människobehandlande organisationer ur ett nyinstitutionellt perspektiv. Stockholm, Liber. 159-172.

Report (Refereed)

Article in journal (Other academic)

Chapter in book (Other academic)

Collection (editor) (Other academic)

Article, book review (Other academic)