We are organization scholars who study the development of digital innovations and the intended and unintended consequences of the use of digital technologies in organizations. We do this by looking beyond the hypes and by actively engaging with organizational professionals who are managing, developing and using these new technologies.
There are few, if any, places in the world where you can find state-of-the art expertise encompassing the wide field of Digital Innovation, ranging from the development of smart technologies in ecosystems, to changing work practices under influence of AI, from crowdsourcing through online platforms to the changing role of the IT organization.
This is what makes the KIN Center for Digital Innovation a unique place in the world.
A hallmark of our way of working is that we do embedded research: we study the development and use of digital technologies within its context over longer periods of time and often through ethnographic methods of research. This allows us to develop a deep understanding of the phenomenon under study, to keep an open mind and include the often unexpected or unintended consequences of digital technologies in our explanations. Clearly, embedded research helps to create real organizational impact as we learn to speak the language of the people we study and develop an understanding of their worldviews. It is only via such in-depth knowledge that we are able to engage with organizations and help them in their transitions towards the digital.
This research is conducted by a multi-disciplinary group of researchers with academic backgrounds in business administration, sociology, communication science, anthropology, philosophy, engineering, industrial design, and computer science.
The KIN Center for Digital Innovation studies the area of digital innovation from three interrelated research roadmaps.
Future of work: Changing work and organizations in the digital age
In this theme we study the future of work in light of digital technologies. When digital technologies such as AI, robotics or smart devices are used we see new ways of working and new ways of organizing emerge. This has consequences for how people learn, collaborate and coordinate their work. Professions are changing, new practices and roles emerge and organisations also adapt in ways that are difficult to predict.
Topics we study are for instance:
How does the use of digital technologies in daily work practices change professions and the organization of work (e.g. AI, HR analytics, robotics).
New ways of working, mobile work and ubiquitous workplace and human capital development.
New ways of organizing and managing expertise (e.g. using online marketplaces).
With our research we contribute to a more resilient future of work and a human-centric digital economy.
Organizing for Digital Innovation
In this theme we study collaboration for the development of digital innovations. Innovation processes change when the focus shifts to digital products and services. The development of digital innovations can be faster, will be more open-ended, distributed across boundaries, centered around platforms, and leading to disruption and convergence of industries. New forms of collaboration are also enabled by digital technologies.
Topics we study include:
Collaborative innovation around technology platforms and in innovation ecosystems.
Collaboration enabled by digital technology, such as in crowdsourcing or 3D printing communities.
Changing nature of innovation processes for digital products and services, thriving on experimentation, learning, and generativity.
With our research we contribute to organizations that effectively collaborate to create value with and through digital technologies.
Managing Digital Transformation
In this theme, we focus on the implications of digital transformation for organizations’ IT and data management. Digital innovation leads to new technologies, applications and processes that need to be embedded in the organizational architecture and policies. Such innovation may also completely transform the organization’s business model, for instance to create value from (big) data, analytics and artificial intelligence. As innovation becomes increasingly digital, this also affects the role of those traditionally involved in the development, implementation and maintenance of technologies: the role of IT- and data management itself changes.
Topics we study include:
Data-driven business innovation: how organizations can create value from (big) data, analytics and artificial intelligence,
Managing IT complexity: integrating new digital technologies, managing legacy systems, managing data quality, business-IT alignment.
The changing role of the IT organization: from service provider to innovation partner, organizing for bimodal IT, managing Agile software development, managing business intelligence and analytics.
With our research we contribute to organizations’ ability and capability to manage, and optimally benefit from, the implications of digital innovation.
We regularly publish in top-tier academic journals such as Academy of Management, Management Information Systems Quarterly, Organization Science, and Information Systems Research. Below we highlight several of our recent top publications, our full list of publications can be found below.
In this paper, we explain how managers establish resource complementarity during their strategizing efforts for interorganizational collaboration. Based on a longitudinal field study at an automotive company, we show that resource complementarity is not given but jointly constructed in interactions with multiple potential partners through recursive cycles of what we refer to as ‘prospective resourcing’. Prospective resourcing mediates the interplay of strategizing and collaboration, thereby reversing the prevailing logic that strategy precedes and determines collaboration. Our findings offer insight into resourcing as a mechanism for developing strategic initiatives and shows how external actors may influence strategizing.
In: Journal of Information Technology
Published: August 15th, 2017
Christoph M. Flath
The reuse of existing knowledge is an indispensable part of the creation of novel ideas. In the creative domain knowledge reuse is a common practice known as “remixing”. With the emergence of open internet-based platforms in recent years, remixing has found its way from the world of music and art to the design of arbitrary physical goods. However, despite its obvious relevance for the number and quality of innovations on such platforms, little is known about the process of remixing and its contextual factors. This paper considers the example of Thingiverse, a platform for the 3D printing community that allows its users to create, share, and access a broad range of printable digital models. We present an explorative study of remixing activities that took place on the platform over the course of six years by using an extensive set of data on models and users. On the foundation of these empirically observed phenomena, we formulate a set of theoretical propositions and managerial implications regarding (1) the role of remixes in design communities, (2) the different patterns of remixing processes, (3) the platform features that facilitate remixes, and (4) the profile of the remixing platform’s users.
Big data has been considered to be a breakthrough technological development over recent years. Notwithstanding, we have as yet limited understanding of how organizations translate its potential into actual social and economic value. We conduct an in-depth systematic review of IS literature on the topic and identify six debates central to how organizations realize value from big data, at different levels of analysis. Based on this review, we identify two socio-technical features of big data that influence value realization: portability and interconnectivity. We argue that, in practice, organizations need to continuously realign work practices, organizational models, and stakeholder interests in order to reap the benefits from big data. We synthesize the findings by means of an integrated model.
In this paper, we argue that the use of technology is structured not only by users, technology, and social context, but also by onlookers (i.e., actors for whom the use is visible, but who are not directly involved in the activities of use themselves). Building on the “technology-in-practice” lens and insights of an ethnographic study in operating rooms where nurses used mobile technology for various work-related and recreational purposes, we show how onlookers contribute to structuring collective patterns of technology use. We conceptualize their role as the onlooker effect, which means that onlookers’ inferences, judgments, and reactions trigger users to reflect on consequences and adjust the use in front of others, a phenomenon which is activated by the cues unintentionally given off when using technology. By identifying the role of onlookers in technology use, this study goes beyond user-centric and feature-centric perspectives on information technology use, illustrating that it does not happen in a physical vacuum, but often draws in unintended audiences. The onlooker effect provides a more in-depth explanation for unexpected patterns of technology use emerging in the workplace.
At the centre of the undeniably contentious debates about climate change lies the question of authority: Which voices will be heard and, thus, who will influence policy, activism, and scientific inquiry? Following high-profile errors found in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Dutch Parliament sought to achieve ‘balance’ in these debates by bringing together climate scientists and skeptics for a set of online discussions. Using both communication and dialectical theorizing, we explore the organizing of authority around climate change in the Netherlands. We locate dialectical tensions and discursive positions of diverse actors in the debate, examining the communication practices by which actors sought to resolve tensions as part of three authoritative moves: bridging, (de)coupling, and resisting. The combination of these authoritative moves failed to engage with – and therefore could not resolve – the sources of the underlying dialectical tensions. We build on these insights to suggest contributions to the climate change debate and theory on authority in organization studies.
In: Information Systems Research
Published: October 17, 2016
In many online communities, users reveal innovative and potentially valuable intellectual property (IP) under conditions that entail the risk of theft and imitation. When there is rivalry and formal IP law is not effective, this could lead to underinvestment or withholding of IP, unless user-organized norms compensate for these shortcomings. This study is the first to explore the characteristics and functioning of such a norms-based IP system in the setting of anonymous, large-scale, and loose-knit online communities. To do so, we use data on the Threadless crowdsourcing community obtained through netnography, a survey, and a field experiment. On this basis, we identify an integrated system of well-established norms that regulate the use of IP within this community. We analyze the system’s characteristics and functioning, and we find that the “legal certainty” it provides is conducive to cooperation, cumulative effects, and innovation. We generalize our findings from the case by developing propositions aimed to spark further research. These propositions focus on similarities and differences between norms-based IP systems in online and off-line settings, and the conditions that determine the existence of norms-based IP systems as well as their form and effectiveness in online communities. In this way, we contribute to the literatures on norms-based IP systems and online communities and offer advice for the management of crowdsourcing communities.
We investigate how multiple actors accomplish interdependent routine performances directed at novel intended outcomes and how this affects routine dynamics over time. We report findings from a longitudinal ethnographic study in an automotive company where actors developed a new business model around information-based services. By analyzing episodes involving interdependent routines, we develop a process model of routine work and dynamics across routines. We identify three types of routine work (flexing, stretching, and inventing) that generate increasingly novel actions and outcomes. Flexed, stretched, and invented performances create emerging consequences for further actions across routines and surface differences between actors that could lead to breakdowns of routine work. Actors respond to such consequences through iterative and cascading episodes of routine work. We discuss how our findings provide new insights in efforts to create variable routine performances and the consequences of interdependence for routine dynamics.
This study examines the use of enterprise social media (ESM) for organizational knowledge sharing and shows that professionals face ambiguities because their knowledge sharing behavior is informed by an institutional complexity that consists of 2 dissimilar institutional logics: logics of the profession, and logics of the corporation. Our qualitative case study of an ESM at an IT consultancy organization shows that professionals find ways to manage the ambiguities they experience by engaging the affordances of ESM in such a way as to develop coping practices: connection management, reputation management, and information management. By complementing the affordance perspective with an institutional logics perspective, we are able to advance scholarly understanding on how ESM can facilitate but also frustrate knowledge sharing.
In: Strategic Organization
Published: February 28th, 2016
This study addresses the question of how established organizations develop new business models over time, using a process research approach to trace how four business model innovation trajectories unfold. With organizational learning as analytical lens, we discern two process patterns: “drifting” starts with an emphasis on experiential learning and shifts later to cognitive search; “leaping,” in contrast, starts with an emphasis on cognitive search and shifts later to experiential learning. Both drifting and leaping can result in radical business model innovations, while their occurrence depends on whether a new business model takes off from an existing model and when it goes into operation. We discuss the implications of these findings for theory on business models and organizational learning.
This article reports the results of a case study of the consequences of mobile device use for the work practices of operating room nurses. The study identifies different patterns of mobile technology use by operating room nurses, including both work-related and non-work-related use. These patterns have multiple consequences for nurses, such as improvements in information access, e-learning and work-related communication, as well as a perceived increase in distractions from the collaborative work. We conceptualize these consequences in terms of three level effects and explain how we find both positive and negative consequences on the third level. On the positive side, improvements were found in how nurses spent their unoccupied time during the stable parts of operations, contributing to their well-being and job satisfaction. A negative consequence was the perceived increase in distraction from the collaborative operating room work practices.
In: Organization Science
Published: April 2, 2014.
We report on a longitudinal study of the emergence of the ATLAS detector, a complex technological system developed at CERN, Geneva. Our data show that the coordination of initial architectural choices was driven by cycles of contestation and justification that resulted in the creation of what we term interlaced knowledge—pockets of shared knowledge interwoven within and across subsystem communities at ATLAS. We also found that these justifications were possible because of the presence of a boundary infrastructure that served as a common substrate of knowledge for all ATLAS participants. Together, the boundary infrastructure and interlaced knowledge enabled participants to make co-oriented technological choices, address latent interdependencies, and minimize the incidence and severity of glitches when integrating the various subsystems.
The concept is simple. KINTalks is an event where inspiring practitioners are invited to talk about their work experience in the field of innovation, digital technology, business and/or design. Key here is sharing knowledge and firing up debate.
Each year at the end of the Spring semester, we organize the KIN Summerschool. During 4 intensive days, a group of about 20 international scholars (late PhD and junior faculty) engage with five renowned international scholars to learn more about KIN-related research and interactively discuss research in the field of IT, Knowledge and Innovation. More information about the summer school can be found here.
The Technology and Innovation Community (TIC) was initiated by Hans Berends and Philipp Tuertscher and meets regularly to share and discuss theory-informed technology and innovation research. For a detailed description click here.
We frequently invite academic scholars to present their latest research either as part of our seminar series or in a one or two days workshop setting. We do this in collaboration with our Graduate School. Below you can find an overview of the previous academic seminars.
Paul Leonardi (University of California) “Dual Pathways to Good Ideas: Toward An Attention-Based View of Innovation in Social Networks”
Aljona Zorina (Leeds University Business School) “Transformative Technology Tools and External Dynamics in Innovating User Communities”
Ola Henfridsson (Warwick Business School) “Recombination in the open-ended value landscape of digital innovation”
Mikkel Flyverbom (Copenhagen Business School) “Through the digital prism: Transparency and managed visibilities in a datafied world”
George Kuk (Nottingham Trent University, UK) “The Role of Affect on Creativity in Open Design Commons”
Brian Pentland (Michigan State University, USA) “Zooming In and Out on Event Networks”
Ronald Rice (UC Santa Barbara, USA) about “Organizational Media Affordances Operationalization and Associations with Media Use”
Stefan Haefliger Cass Business School, London UK) “Who solves whose problem in open collaboration?”
Shaz Ansari (University of Cambridge) “Multiple framings and divergent responses: A cognitive account of incumbent responses to disruptive innovation”
Joost Rietdijk (EUR) “Demand Heterogeneity and the Adoption of Platform Complements”
Richard Boland (Case Western University, USA) “Design issues”
Sue Newell (Sussex University UK) and Bob Galliers (Bentley University USA) “The role of power and materiality in healthcare improvement initiatives: A strategy-as-practice perspective”
Llewellyn Thomas (Imperial College London) “The processes of ecosystem emergence”
Sumita Raghuram (Penn State University, USA) “Virtual work and how leaders can make a difference”
Jani Merikivi (Aalto University) “Binge Watching: a system usage perspective”
Robin Teigland (Stockholm School of Economics) “Bitcoin, not just a currency but an IoT facilitator”
Natalia Levina (NYU, USA) “Dealing with newly tainted work in an occupational online community”
Michael Hitt (Texas AM University, USA) “Institutions and International Strategy: effects of institutional polycentricity on firm strategies and outcomes”
Paul Carlile (Boston University, USA) Informal PhD workshop on Practice Theory
Tatiana Andreeva (St Petersburg University) “What can contemporary organizations learn from theatre improvisation?”
Joe Walter (Michigan State University, USA) “Social Influence and Social Media: a Framework for web2.0 effects”
Stan Karanasios (University of Leeds) “Information Systems Research and Activity Theory: reflections on a programme of research”
Raghu Garud (Penn State University, USA) “The Disruptor’s Dilemma: TIVO and the U.S. Television Ecosystem”
Innovation has become a major topic of study in the field of information systems. These innovations are mainly due to increased knowledge-intensity of organizational performance, the growing distributed and mobile forms of working and organizing, and the emergence of digitalization in processes and products. As a result, there is a need among scholars to understand in more detail how to study knowledge intensive practices that emerges from the interplay between (new) technologies and new ways of working as well as the management thereof. A significant group of scholars, spread over Europe and US/Canada, are using various practice and process approaches to study such new ways of working, innovating and organizing and publishes in a growing number of related international journals. Each year, a different selection of this group of scholars come together in Amsterdam.
Building on the success of last year’s Summer Schools (see archive), this year’s workshop is designed to help develop the insights and skills of PhD and early career researchers in theory development and methodologies within this multi-disciplinary field of knowledge, information and innovation (KIN) research. The purpose is to expand academic insights and skills in order to conduct and publish valuable research.
Programme and faculty
This KIN Summer School is organized by the KIN Center for Digital Innovation of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, together with the Amsterdam Business Research Institute (ABRI). During 4 intensive days participants and faculty will discuss research in the field of Technology, Knowledge and Innovation. More information about the programme and how to sign up can be found here.