Complex and Open Innovation for Networked Society

Centre for Technology Innovation and Engagement

Krsto Pandza is Professor in Strategy and Innovation and Director of the Centre for Technology Innovation and Engagement (C-Tie). His main research topics focus on strategic management of technology innovation management, role of managers in shaping innovation processes and responsible innovation.

Group photograph of the members of the Centre for Technology, Innovation and Engagement

View COINS project page

Pervasive digital technologies such as internet, mobile and cloud, which integrate deeply into the core of products and services, radically change the nature of how innovation processes are organised and how organisations are strategically managed. 

Innovation is becoming increasingly open and requires collaboration among diverse constituencies, such as academia, industry, government and citizens. This complexity is further intensified with the ability of digital technology to create innovative solutions that blur the boundaries between established industrial sectors and produce products and services that bring previously separate user experiences together. Companies with digital technology expertise like Apple and Google are increasingly entering into industrial sectors such as health, energy and automotive.   

Such developments create numerous opportunities, but also immense strategic challenges for companies that are affected by this digital transformation. This is why the Complex and Open Innovation for Networked Society (COINS) project is of vital importance. The COINS partnership is a €1.3m project funded through the European Industrial Doctorate (EID) scheme, led by myself and Dr Saeed Khanagha from Ericsson. The European Union-funded programme is designed to develop a new generation of postgraduate researchers to help build economic growth, through knowledge and experience of academia and industry. COINS is the first EID project that explicitly studies managerial and strategic aspects of technology innovation. 

COINS is based on a strategic partnership between the University of Leeds and Ericsson AB - a multi-national telecommunications company. It will create a sustainable platform for researchers to engage in collaborative production of knowledge by investigating challenges for managing processes of complex and open innovation created by advances in digital technology. 

Five Early Stage Researchers (ESR), accompanied by an experienced, interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral group of supervisors, have joined the University of Leeds to study the development of innovation capabilities required for organisations of different types to effectively respond to institutional, social and technological complexity in innovation ecosystems. 

The ESRs will spend 18 months each at Ericsson (out of 36 months required for completing a doctorate at the University of Leeds) in order to investigate how this company implements the vision of networked society that aspires for a world where everyone and everything will be connected everywhere in real time. 

An ambitious outreach programme will equip the ESRs with appreciation of the role of business, innovation and technology in society. They will become responsible researchers and leaders capable of finding solutions for some of the greatest challenges facing our planet. 

The COINS team organised an Open Strategy workshop in Stockholm as part of the annual Strategic Management Society Conference. The event brought together innovation managers and strategists from Ericsson and other companies such as Intel, Verizon and Philips as well as academic researchers from the field of strategic management. A mix of provocative talks and interactive workshop enabled us to address some of the prominent challenges facing large and established companies when confronting potentially disruptive change. 

We first built possible future scenarios for Network Society and mapped the emerging innovation ecosystem. We explored potential organisational responses, especially the challenge of how to simultaneously manage the core business and future opportunities. We concluded the day by engaging in discussion about how technological advances change the very practice of strategy and innovation work. 

The event was a great introduction for our ESRs to engage with the practical strategic challenges as experienced by Ericsson managers and managerial theories. In the next three years the COINS team will organise multiple events that bring together innovation managers, senior academics and junior researchers. You will be able to read about some of these events and findings on the blog.

Meet the COINS ESRs:

Name: Charlotte Krumlinde
Area of research: Innovation management 
What skills will you bring to the project? The combination of an engineering background in innovation management and the current focus of my PhD project. 
What are you looking forward to about this project? As part of this project I find it particularly interesting to work at the intersection between the academic world and industry with the opportunity to create knowledge in one domain and then apply it to another to make a change in practice. 

Name: Fathiro H R Putra
Area of research: Innovation strategy, paradox management, open innovation
What skills will you bring to the project? I will harness my strong qualitative research skills to investigate how Ericsson manage tensions arising from technology convergence and disruptive innovations. I will also apply a design science approach in providing managerial guidance for the company to survive in technology convergence.
What are you looking forward to about this project? I am looking forward to work alongside industry to produce impactful research. 

Name: Adam Uhrdin
Area of research: How incumbent organisations develop new capabilities to combine product and service innovation in order to respond to disruptive, digital technology advances.
What skills will you bring to the project? Knowledge of product and service innovation processes.
What are you looking forward to about this project? I’m looking forward to designing and conducting the data collection.

Name: Anna Plotnikova
Area of research: Innovation management
What skills will you bring to the project? I think my communication and interpersonal skills will help to establish a productive and efficient collaboration with other academics and practitioners.
What are you looking forward to about this project? One of the most exciting aspects of this project is the opportunity to apply academic knowledge and research to the organisation-related challenges that ultimately can improve organisational performance.

Name: Dave Larkin
Area of research: Institutional dynamics concerning emerging technologies within complex ecosystems. 
What skills will you bring to the project? Refined communication and interpersonal skills, and an ability to collaborate with team members and others. 
What are you looking forward to about this project? The opportunity to explore and investigate issues and challenges at the forefront of significant industrial change, and in doing so, contribute to the advancement of the management literature as well as improved organisational responses to disruptive change.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect the views of Leeds University Business School or the University of Leeds.