Published: Sun 02 Feb 2020.
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In this blog we will share news about our activities – hope you’d like to join us!
MIB-researcher Anna Yström was just awarded 3,2 million SEK from Vinnova, Sweden’s innovation agency, for a new project “Collaborative innovation for sustainable cities: An analysis of the urban innovation system in Gothenburg” (2019-2020) together with researchers connected to Kommunforskning i Väst; Anders Sandoff and Christian Jensen from Gothenburg University and Jessica Algehed, FOG Innovation.
The aim of the project is to create a more profound understanding of the interaction between different actors in an urban innovation system, focusing on roles, responsibilities and structures. The study sheds light on prerequisites, drivers, challenges and opportunities from the perspective of actors involved, and in what way local, national and international policies, strategies and investments influence and is influenced by what happens in practice.
The project targets the innovation system in Gothenburg, a city that is a hub in an expansiv region focused on innovation, where several actors with support from e.g. Vinnova has launched initiatives to innovate through collaboration among industry, academia and public sector. The focus of this study in this initial phase is the innovation system related to the transition to a sustainable urban transportation system, i.e. the intersection between transport industry, the emergence of new technology such as artificial intelligens, changing behavioural patterns such as the sharing economy and ideas of circular flows and the ambition of sustainable development of the city.
In the paper I get to talk about what I saw during a two-year ethnographic study of a partnership of fourteen organisations. Using material from participant observation at meetings, I talk about how members of the steering group interacted with one another. I argue that by observing such practices, researchers can learn about how people from many organisations manage to come together to tackle societal challenges, despite their many different goals. In the case of the partnership I followed, this was about how to test and demonstrate new electric vehicles and related charging infrastructure in a rapidly urbanising city.
Working together as a ‘meta-organisation’, an association of organisations, the people find themselves in new relationships with one another. This enables a hybrid space in-between the organisations, where there are fewer norms, rules and models about ways of organising. This creates greater scope for experimentation and innovation, but also conflicts! I use an ethnographic vignette from one of the meetings to show how the members of the steering group performed what they saw as appropriate ways of participating in the meetings. This was often about being keen to learn about the constaints that a partner was subject to in their everyday work (such as regulations around tendering for all public contracts); and then about finding ways that they could help one another. They needed to use their collective ‘muscle’.
Ultimately, the members of the steering group were trying to shape a collective playing field during meetings where they could make sense together of the issues in integrating new infrastructure alongside the old. They talked about how they could solve these together, confident that they were striving for the same things – to contribute to a sustainable city. I talk about the practices in the meetings as ‘values practices’ – what people say and do that articulate and accomplish what is right or wrong, good or bad, for its own sake. I argue that values take on greater significance in meta-organisations since voluntary self-regulation and decision-making by consensus are prized. Instead, committing to a higher purpose sets direction for joint work; brings people from many organisations together; and provides a new starting point from which to tackle societal challenges.
I hope now to re-work the paper and submit it to a journal for publication. Watch this space!!! // Jane (21 June 2018)
Further reading on meta-organisations:
AHRNE, G. & BRUNSSON, N. 2008. Meta-organizations, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar Publishing.
BERKOWITZ, H. 2018. Meta-organizing firms’ capabilities for sustainable innovation: A conceptual framework. Journal of Cleaner Production, 175, 420-430.
BERKOWITZ, H. & BOR, S. 2018. Why meta-organizations matter: A response to Lawton et al. and Spillman. Journal of Management Inquiry, 27, 204-211.
Further reading on values and values practices:
BREUER, H. & LÜDEKE-FREUND, F. 2017. Values-Based Innovation Management: Innovating by What We Care About, London, Palgrave Macmillan.
GEHMAN, J., TREVINO, L. K. & GARUD, R. 2013. Values work: A process study of the emergence and performance of organizational values practices. Academy of Management Journal, 56, 84-112.
Teaching, teaching and more teaching!
2017 zoomed towards a close before we could take a breath, as usual fully engaged in giving an introductory course in Organisational Behaviour for 84 students of the Masters programme on Management and Economics of Innovation. This year the teaching was split between dynamic duo Sanne and Anna, with a little assisting from Jane. Of course we were sad to not have Flemming Norrgren in the gang this year – apparently the lure of his home in Italy in November as the winter draws in in Sweden, is bigger than the fun of teaching the course! The traces of his work in team-teaching with Sanne over the years lived on in the course design, even if Anna and Sanne as a new team started to make a few changes. We’re very happy that Flemming will be back for ‘little OB’ in the Spring!
Now we’re well into 2018, Kamilla has been slogging away to run the course Organising for Innovation. The course combines both classic organisation theory and research on innovation management. This year there’s been twenty students drawn from several of the Masters programmes at Chalmers Technology Management and Economics, particularly Supply Chain Management and Entrepreneurship & Business Design, but also students from other departments at Chalmers and some exchange students.
And now, as we get into March, Sanne and Flemming are gearing up for seven full days of teaching Organisational Behaviour in the annual Spring course that spans March-May. We wait and see what the teams get up to this year as they experience and reflect on teamwork in ways that have somehow evaded them despite all the team assignments they’ve done during their schooling!
I feel really lucky to get the chance this Spring to supervise a pair of Masters students in their thesis work. Super fun but also a bit nail-biting – will they finish in time!??! I already know a whole lot more about the world of Swedish fintechs from what I’ve picked up talking to Jakob and Christopher, and I look forward to seeing what they come up with in the final thesis.
New publication for Kamilla!
Kamilla has published a new paper along with three other Chalmers colleagues. The article is about the Challenge Lab, an example of challenge-based learning, here at Chalmers. Kamilla and her co-authors argue that the students perceive that they have developed deep skills in problem formulation and sustainable development, as well as working across disciplines and with different stakeholders.
The full citation is:
Kohn Rådberg, K., Lundqvist, U., Malmqvist, J. and Hagvall Svensson, O., 2018. From CDIO to challenge-based learning experiences–expanding student learning as well as societal impact? European Journal of Engineering Education, pp.1-16.
Find the article here: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03043797.2018.1441265
New publication for Anna!
Anna managed to sneak in a publication just before the end of 2017 with her increasingly regular co-author, Marine Agogué of HEC Montréal. They explore in what ways experimenting with collaborative innovation stimulates the reinvention of practices in an organization.
Agogué, M. and Yström, A., 2017. Experimenting with innovation processes: the case of reinventing a museum through collaboration. CERN IdeaSquare Journal of Experimental Innovation, 1(2), p.9.
Find the article here: https://e-publishing.web.cern.ch/index.php/CIJ/article/view/480
Out in the field
We’re all still running around getting research done, of course, perhaps none more so than Sanne. The EU Horizon 2020 project IRIS Smart Cities (longer name: Integrated and Replicable Solutions for Co-Creation in Sustainable Cities) is now in full swing. Since Gothenburg is one of the three lighthouse cities along with Utrecht and Nice, there’s a lot to keep up to speed with. Giada Baldeserelli has recently joined Chalmers TME from EPFL as a postdoctoral researcher for two years. With the interests from her doctoral research of routines and coordinating inter-organisational collaboration, Sanne is hoping that Giada may be interested in being involved in IRIS, but we’ll let Giada get her feet under the table first!
Find out more about the IRIS project here: http://www.irissmartcities.eu/irissmartcities/
2018 conference excursions (mostly not too far from home this year!)
I was quick off the mark this year for conference presentations, talking about my research at Participatory Innovation Conference in Eskilstuna (that’s smallish-town Sweden!) in January 2018.
In June 2018, you can catch members of the MiB research group at ISPIM Innovation Conference in Stockholm; at European Academy of Management 2018 (EURAM) in Reykjavik and at R&D Management Conference 2018 in Milan.
Look out for Sanne at Academy of Management (AOM) in August 2018 in Chicago – she’s taking part again this year in the Professional Development Workshop (PDW) on research connected to Open Innovation.
And finally, there’s been some promotions!!
It already seems like ages ago, but Anna was promoted on 19 October 2017 to docent/Associate Professor! Congratulations, Anna! Well-deserved. We were so proud to be there for your promotion lecture and to hear you give a fantastic recap of all your research to date and your research plans over the coming years. Very impressive indeed!
I hit a milestone in my research on 7 February 2018, presenting my licentiate thesis “He just doesn’t catch it in his heart.” Untangling goals and values in inter-organisational collaboration.” The thesis marks the half-way point, ish, in my doctoral research. Full steam ahead to 2020! Read more about the thesis here: https://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/tme/news/Pages/The-muddle-of-values-and-goals-in-collaboration.aspx
The thesis is available for download here: https://research.chalmers.se/publication/500023
All the best for now! Enjoy your 2018!
/Jane on 7 March 2018
The MIB group is continuing their efforts to explore and problematize collaborative innovation practices, in order to extend our knowledge about what happens as different actors (both on an individual and organizational level) engage in interaction to innovate together. This time we encourage interested scholars to submit their empirical or conceptual research papers to our special issue in Creativity and Innovation Management Journal, edited by Anna Yström, Chalmers University of Technology and Marine Agogué at HEC Montréal!
Our motivation for editing such a special issue is that despite the increased interest of practitioners and researchers in collaborative innovation, we know surprisingly little about what practices it involves and how to support them. In a recent review, Bogers et al. (2016) concluded that more research is needed, especially research related to the micro-foundations of collaborative innovation. It is also clear that in the innovation management literature, research has primarily focused on investigating technical, contractual or business aspects of a firm engaging in innovative activities outside of its boundaries, and often has not taken into account the influence and roles of individuals in such interactions. Furthermore, organization scholars have, over the past two decades, argued the need for a practice turn (Barley and Kunda, 2001, Corradi et al., 2010), thereby implying that theories need to be constructed based on what happens in practice rather than researchers’ conceptualizations.
In this special issue, by specifically addressing collaborative innovation practices, we recognize the centrality of human actions to organizational outcomes, which also reflects an increasing recognition of the importance of practices in the ongoing operations of organizations. We hope to see a diverse range of submissions that can shed new light on collaborative practices!
The deadline for paper submissions is July 31st, 2018, so you should have plenty of time to spread the word to those you think might be interested as well as prepare your paper. If you have any questions or want to discuss an idea for a paper, please contact either Marine Agogué or me, Anna Yström!
You can find the full Call for papers here!
Still, being the first time attending the IST conference, we felt a bit like outsiders in a club with unwritten rules about what theories, frameworks and references to use when working on transitions. Nevertheless, most of the individuals I talked to also came from different disciplines and research traditions and seemed to feel like newcomers to the field of transitions, and it was a great comfort to hear that we were not alone in this regard!
Securing a prominent MIB-presence always at the front row in the plenary room, also had the upside effect of Sanne being selected as a guinea pig to help the communications experts make their point during the final session. Under the instructions from the actor Andreas T Olsson, Sanne was asked to move glasses of water (topped off with some Swedish vodka) across the stage during great suspense, in order to teach us that emotions are stronger than facts, and that we need to engage our emotions in order to truly learn and remember things. Sanne’s water walk easily became one of the most memorable moments from the conference!
After three intense days at the conference, with lots of interesting, inspiring and confusing insights, we are proud of our efforts and impact at the conference, with no less than 2 presentations, 4 sessions chaired and 1 track organized. We are now boosting ourselves up to manage a just a few more days of work before summer vacation begins! /Anna
The Organization Development and Change Division at AoM has awarded the paper – Developing a Learning Method in an Open Innovation Project Through Action Research – as the ODC Best Action Research Paper!
This seems to have been very unexpected news, with tales from Anna of checking all the boxes when submitting the paper without thinking about the chance of winning.
The paper explores methods to support action learning in open innovation and how such learning helps create a platform for future collaboration.
Full details on the paper:
Yström, A., Ollila, S., Agogué, M. & Coghlan, D. 2017. Developing A Learning Method In An Open Innovation Project Through Action Research. Academy of Management. Atlanta, Aug 4-8.
Ann argued that a process perspective is valuable as it highlights e.g. the centrality of time to fully understanding and experiencing the world and because we not only need to understand not whether A is better than B (variance), but how to move from A to B over time (process). Furthermore, with a process perspective, it is equally of not even more interesting to study stability, rather than change, in organizational life and the multiplicity and temporality of consequences (short-term vs. long term; rippling effects over time). At the seminar, she built on her experience of editing a recent special issue in AMJ, which was focused on process studies, and she shared valuable insights on why certain papers were rejected and why others were not. This gave the audience a much appreciated crash course in how to position papers and contributions based on qualitative research in general, not only process studies.
Those who are particularly interested in process studies might want to check out the PROS conference that Ann is part of organizing in Greece in June. I will represent the MIB group there, by presenting the paper “Institutionalizing work in the context of open innovation: a process perspective” co-authored with Fernando Fachin from Royal Military College of Canada, Kingston. /Anna
Anna has co-authored a paper with Hedvig Aspenberg that looks at regional collaboration for innovation. The paper is based on interview material with managers of 14 different clusters in Sweden, and discusses the importance of the practices of narrating and orchestrating for fostering collaboration between cluster members.
My paper is based on participant observation of meetings of a coordinating team for a partnership between 15 organisations. The paper discusses how the coordinators drew on the organisational identities of their home organisations and the collective meta-organisation to keep alive their joint work.
We’ll report back soon on how the ISPIM community received the papers! // Jane
More info on The ISPIM Innovation Forum: http://www.ispim-innovation-forum.com/
NEWSFLASH: 21 MARCH 2017
Anna won the Knut Holt Best Paper Award and Jane won the Alex Gofman Best Student Paper Award at the ISPIM Innovation Forum. Anna’s paper will also be included in a special issue of the International Journal of Innovation Management, coming out in June 2017! This is the first time that researchers from the same university have won both awards at the same time. Great fun!
During the first two weeks of the new year, the four of us in the MIB group have been hard at work getting submissions done for AOM, ISPIM, PROS and EGOS; preparing to teach our Master’s course in Organising for Innovation; finalising a paper to send back for second round of reviews; reviewing submissions for the IST conference; and teaching in a PhD-level course on leadership. And that’s not to mention preparations for 2017’s time out-in-the-field, such as discussions with partners about the set-up for research projects. While 2017 stretches far ahead of us, we’ve even got 2018 in mind, already looking at funding opportunities and new ideas for research projects!
A highlight for me from 2016 was when Sanne turned to me, just after her promotion lecture, and before the speeches began over champagne, and said: Now you’ve got your own professor! Her promotion must be the biggest reason we had for celebration, but there were also lots of other big moments and successes along the way. In the Autumn, we seemed to get into our stride, re-discovering the secret recipe for how to be successful in writing funding applications. We start 2017 with money in the coffers. 2016 was a year of expanding our circle of friends and colleagues, too. Anna’s visiting researcher position at HEC Montréal, from what I’ve heard, seems to have been very productive on working through her pipeline of papers, as well as in meeting new research partners.
So, yes, back to business!
Our papers drew on research with various collaborative innovation arenas, platforms and intermediaries, and spanned topics such as identity work, joint value capture and managerial challenges in such settings.
With around 250 delegates, there were many presentations to draw inspiration from, and we were happy to find that many researchers are becoming interested in identity work in collaborative innovation processes.
Perhaps most exciting were the sessions around the Barça ‘playbook’ and elBulli.
Both took the audience away from their usual contexts for thinking about open innovation, and provoked us into thinking about how we define value and think about systems for innovation. //Jane