Monthly Archives: July 2014

Challenges of Institutional Theory – Reflections from the EGOS 2014 conference

I have commentated central debates about the developments of institutional theory – in the case of the NIW2014 conference in Rome, institutional logics have been of central concern. Institutionalism also has been debated at EGOS 2014 – at least in the two subthemes of Greenwood et al. Rethinking Responses to Institutional Complexity and Pinheiro et al. Public Sector Reforms and Organizational Responses: Comparing Universities and Hospitals and Engwall et al. Universities in Unsettled Times as well as in the sub-plenary New Directions in Institutional Innovation with talks from Eva Boxenbaum, Marc Ventresca and Roy Suddaby.

Boxenbaum promoted an institutional imperialism by suggesting to incorporate findings from other sciences like neuro-sciences. This remembers of the Institutional Logics-book by Thornton, Occasio and Lounsbury (2012), which is presented as an attempt to position their developments of new institutionalism as a new and comprehensive meta-theory competing with Giddens structuration theory and other grand theories of society.

Since there was no moderator, a direct collusion of attitudes and ideas have been avoided, but during his talk, Ventresca revealed a sceptical position towards the imperialistic position Boxenbaum represented: “If everything is institutional, then it doesn´t help us to understand the world.” Ventresca rightly observes a “downfall as a discrete analytical stance”. Institutionalism now seems to claim explaining everything by labeling everything as something institutional.

Roy Suddaby made this point even more sharp. He started his presentation with an idom: “has institutional theory jumped the shark?” He observes a lack of construct clarity and coherence as well as tendency towards the trivialization of change and institutions. Excessive interest in studying institutional change has lead to perceive any changes as institutional change: “Any change process, however trivial, has become institutional change.” This means studying every social phenomena as institutional. So we have to bethink the very idea of institutions – endurance (this point has been also made by Elke Weik at NIW2013 in Warsow)

But reclaiming to contribute to the understanding of our world, Institutionalism might rather recognize his limits and concentrate on further elaborating the foundations. On the other hand, imperialistic tendencies can emerge into positive effects of interdisciplinary (recall my thoughts from the Bucharest-Workshop: an economist studying behavior of academics can understand the limits of its market approach).

All in all, EGOS was worth going and we came home with some constructive feedback on our papers and inspirations for our further research.


Vom 24.09.2014 bis zum 26.09.2014 findet ein „Distinguished Scholars Seminar“ am Lehrstuhl von David Seidl in Zürich statt. Die Veranstaltung beinhaltet das Thema „Institutional Theory“. Jessica Petersen und ich werden aus dem Team Indikon daran teilnehmen und freuen uns bereits jetzt schon sehr auf den wissenschaftlichen Input! Dabei wird für uns die Frage im Vordergrund stehen, wie wir Aspekte des Institutionalismus aufgreifen und in unsere Forschungsarbeiten einbauen können.
Die Woche darauf reisen wir zum 8. International Research Workshop (IRWS) nach Sankelmark und Sonderburg. Hierbei wird es um das Erlernen der statistischen Software R gehen. Tipps zum schnelleren Umgang mit diesem Programm sind jederzeit willkommen.

Perspectives on the 13th International Science-to-Business Marketing Conference

During the past month of June, I had the opportunity to assist and present my work at the 13th International Science-to-Business Marketing Conference “Cross Organizational Value Creation” in Winterthur, Switzerland. Organized by the ZHAW School of Management and Law in cooperation with the Science-to-Business Marketing Research Centre of Münster University of Applied Sciences, the conference brought together 113 experts from research institutions, industry and intermediaries (e.g. TTOs) from 24 countries to foster a powerful environment of dialog and collaboration. Thereby also building a network for future cooperation.

This international environment was a breeding place for great discussions, new connections and inspiring talks. The different conference activities, such as keynote presentations, facilitated expert panels, scientific presentations and practical workshops as well as an “Open Space Workshop“ offered a brought range of new knowledge and creative solutions. Participants took home new ideas, models, instruments and pieces of knowledge and innovation to apply in practice, either as an academic or practitioner.

Among the central topics discussed at the conference was the issue of modern collaboration relationships at the organizational and individual level. One of the outcomes was that the concept of traditional organizational borders is obsolete, thanks to the drastic transformation by information and communication systems in interlinking organizations. Due to which, a higher level of cooperation skills, flexibility and agility in value creation is required. The discussions closed the book on traditional concepts of Technology Transfer and moved towards new terms and activities. Amongst which was the more modern and broader term of Knowledge Transfer, which was characterized as bidirectional, directed by markets, customer needs, expectations, partnerships, creating value and offering mutual benefits.

I have presented my research study of the Leuphana Innovation Incubator, through which I tried to expand our understanding of formal knowledge transfer structures, by describing how various cooperation mechanisms can be institutionalized into an integrative cooperation scheme that promotes knowledge-based innovation and sustainable regional economic development. During and after the track session, I have received valuable feedback and constructive ideas in how to frame the paper and derive theoretical and practical implications.

I look forward to participating in another successful event next year at the 14th conference. For more information and updates please visit the link bellow:

See you all there,

2nd Workshop in Strategic Change and Organizational Transformation of Higher Education Institutions

We look back at an interesting and inspiring academic workshop in Bucharest. The topic emerged as a joint follow-up event of our workshop last year in Lüneburg. The host – Prof. Elena Druica – and her colleagues are approching questions of higher education from economic perspectives. Especially the growing domain of behavioral economics allows to analyze and explain non-rational or non-market behavior, which is very important in the field of higher education research.

We have touched important questions which occupies our project team as well as others within the funding line “Science Economics”. For example, Calin Valsan – who also participated in Lüneburg before – investigated the fact of the relatively low payment of professors compared to other professionals. He concluded that academics do not respond to economic incentives as other professionals. Higher educations reforms could deform the prevailing motivation and incentives of academics as distinct professionals:

“This paper claims that turning academics into regular professionals would have far-reaching consequences from a wider social perspective. Emphasizing monetary rewards at the expense of intrinsic drivers would most likely change the nature and structure of the academic output (Valsan, taken from the abstract)

This illustrates that Science Economics does not necessarily conclude, how higher education can be managed more efficiently and how performance can be raised. Science economics can mean, that an economic analysis concludes the failure of the introduction of market principles.

We have further learned about the challenges of the Romanian higher education policy. For example, Liviu Andreescu presented research on the challenges and opportunities of Romania’s first university classification exercise in 2011. This was motivated by an observation of too many institutions with too weak research performance. Hence, concentration and profile building is now at the top of the agenda of Romanian higher education policy. The classification exercise initiated first merger cases and there are more mergers of universities to be expected. We will keep in contact in order to follow the developments.