Reshaping Firms in Digital Ecosystems: Designing the future
We’re organizing the following upcoming SMS Berkeley workshop this fall, titled: Reshaping Firms in Digital Ecosystems: Designing the future
Call for interested doctoral students:
The main objectives of this – now virtual – Doctoral Workshop, focusing on strategy and innovation in a digital era, are to foster interaction among leading faculty scholars and doctoral students on various aspects of research and on preparing for a professional career in academia. Theme: Reshaping Firms in Digital Ecosystems: Designing the future.
Date: November 5th, 2020. registration open now: click here!
Mike Schavemaker, Innovation Transformation Lead and senior innovation consultant at Royal Philips, and member of the FINDER Advisory Board, and Barbara Voelkl, FINDER PhD, share their thoughts on the current pressures incumbent banks are subject to in the context of business model innovation.
Disclaimer: The content of the FINDER blog is not an expression of Royal Philips, nor created on behalf of Royal Philips. The content is created and contributed by private persons.
As a Russian proverb goes: “Still water undermines the bank”. Now put in a drastically new – and current – context and perspective, banks find themselves more urged to actively take position what financial services they want to explore, own or divest. Based upon our interviews with Investment Capital players, Tech players and Brick-and-Mortar banks we present 5 commonly found problems that pressure banks to recalibrate their purpose and venture inroads to Fintech and Tech in general.
Incumbent banks are currently pressured with 5 developments:
1. Negative Interest Rates
With negative to close-to-zero interest rates particularly in Europe and in the United States, the traditional revenue model is heavily challenged. If interest does not provide any income any more, outcome-based revenue models are on their forefront. Collaborations with Tech and FinTech companies find their chance here: They provide back-end solutions and fee-based opportunities to gain revenue, provide the infrastructure to lock in customers and achieve a high wallet share and automate processes for a higher customer loyalty and satisfaction.
With the banking ecosystem was in a cautious transition towards more digital servicing, it is still heavily focused on brick-and-mortar business. With Covid-19 resulting in lockdowns and social distancing while financial services from lending to savings become immensely important in financially instable times, the banking business is pressured to accelerate their digital and online services while adhering security and privacy standards.
3. Changing Customer Behavior
While naturally the digital native generation is applying a comprehensive digital orientation also into the financial service ecosystem, it is necessary to take a differentiated view rather than assuming a general “demand for digital” from a consumer perspective. For (i) small repetitive interactions – getting some cash, checking your balances – a strong appreciation for digital applications is seen. For (ii) once-in-a-lifetime events such as a housing mortgage, even digital natives seem to appreciate a trust-based relation with an actual human interaction. Taking a differentiated approach is thus necessary to gain wallet share.
4. Changing Employee Expectations
While young and experienced innovators are working at big tech players or founding their own FinTech, the organizational culture at incumbent bank is not per se attractive for the workforce needed to disrupt the business. With internal start-up spaces, separate task forces and a modernization of organizational behavior, banks need to start inspiring their workforce to stay relevant and attract human capital.
5. Legacy Technology
For a huge part, and interconnected to the aforementioned lack of skills, banks are sitting on legacy technology. Often built on monolithic architecture, banking technologies and infrastructure needs to be carefully but greatly revised – under honest consideration of in-house skills and cooperation with Tech and FinTech.
Having laid out the pressures on banks, we need to be cognizant that not all banks are alike. At the least, we need to distinguish Retail banks offering financial services to the general public from Commercial Banks supporting businesses with financial issues. But as another Russian proverb goes: “Who owns the bank owns the fish”.
In this proverbial perspective we have had several acknowledgements by our interviewed peers that Retail banking would likely be first to be impacted by the tech player’s ambition to ‘own the wallet share of the customer’ and have conversely the most prominent intrinsic motivation for overcoming the mentioned pressures. However, there is a tension here between their most precious strategic assets, i.e. trust and brand equity and the ability to create big-bang approach digital branches. Despite the reality of the pressures you see few digital branches being opened by the brick-and-mortar retail banks to channel the pressures to learning environments, like the traditional Sparkassenverband had done, creating its digital daughter Deutsche Kreditbank AG. On contrary, brick-and-mortar banks are exploring in reality very diligently their role and roadmaps evolving towards full digital players, in effect because they want to understand – beyond trust and brand equity – what other strategic assets they can develop to capture the value, churning into additional retention or sustained relevancy. Our observation is that this very dilemma similarly faced by product-based companies who want to provide digital services on-top of their product offering: you don’t know what services add value up-front, which will potentially alienate your existing customer base and what services do matter; let alone for which services you can additionally charge for.
Commercial banks in their turn are more opting for hybrid collaboration models with tech players, particularly in the B2B-domain. In this context, the tech players leverage their manufactured products like assets for their client-base, offering a suite of managed services beyond the standards of a typical financial lease. Often bundling the product-sell with extended services, leveraging the commercial bank’s bespoke infrastructure and capabilities beyond a typical operational lease. There they are tapping primarily into the changing customer behavior, being able to offer adjacent offerings, leveraged by fintech and exploited with tech. Of course, we can make additional cross-sections throughout the Commercial Banking domain, however we believe that Commercial Banks and Tech players have much more natural power leverage to create sustainable alliances, channeling the pressures upon them; simply because if they get the partnership right, they both profit from the increased wallet-share.
We will not ‘boil the ocean’ by discussing more types of Banks, simply as in these blogs we would like to provoke thoughts and trigger insights. We welcome you to provide your views in directly contacting us or leave your views in the LinkedIn message boxes. For now, I would like to thank Barbara Völkl for co-creating these blogs. I will surely miss her editing skills, our weekly synchronizations and the interviews we held with interesting peers thus far: all best with next (ad)ventures, keep on Innovating and always stay open for new perspectives from where ever they may come!
The FINDER programme, a research collaboration between Radboud University and Atos, sets out to Foster Innovation Networks in a Digital Era (FINDER). You will investigate the innovative collaborative arrangement amongst organisations – grassroots, incumbents and the wider society – as they inclusively explore digital technology for new product or market development. The keywords defining the programme are digital transformation, collaboration, strategic reorientation and value creation to society at large.
The FINDER research scope spans industries and job functions, requiring candidates to synthesise complex information and to approach problems nimbly in a manner that can be transferred to both academics and practitioners. It demands a sophisticated understanding of the context in which business is done, the effect of technology in driving these collaborative processes and of the stakeholders involved. FINDER’s integrated curriculum prepares students to drive change at the vanguard of business and technology by challenging them to consider multiple perspectives and to create innovative solutions to problems that are not only profitable to business but also relevant and responsible towards society at large.
We are currently looking for an intellectually curious candidate, aspiring to gain a doctorate in the discipline of Management – FINDER workstream #3: ‘Alternative business models in digital ecosystems’:
In good times and bad, firms regularly reshape themselves. Firms may re-align organisation structure with strategy and changed external circumstances (Puranam & Gulati 2009), intervene to stimulate specific activities (Okhuysen and Eisenhardt 2002; Aalbers, 2019), or downsize during challenging times (Dougherty & Bowman 1995). Even under such challenging circumstances, entrepreneurship continues to take place. Intra-entrepreneurs often have to build organisations in order to perform activities for which markets are not yet ready, or even are the first to render solutions to navigate out of crisis. Accordingly, entrepreneurs and managers must consider the design of business models and even building businesses to execute transactions which cannot yet be performed in the market. While reshaping firms (e.g. changing structure or size) is both important and frequent, it is also relatively understudied. Moreover, extant research (e.g. on downsizing and turnaround) typically focuses on traditional outcomes (e.g. profits) with less emphasis on such things as collaboration, knowledge creation and innovation at the individual or team levels. The study of business models at the intersection of strategy and entrepreneurship research involves an exploration of how firms do business at the system-level under such challenging conditions. These are conditions typically to be expected, also in the wake of COVID-19, with economic prospects scaling down substantially across various industries. Such interdisciplinary investigations are essential for understanding how firms may re-align organisation structure with strategy under suddenly changing external circumstances, with the implications of digital transformation potentially helping different emergent ecosystem actors to outperform in this new landscape. Europe’s financial services industry presents an example of this type of dynamics, facing both technology-driven as well as institutionally-driven challenges in re-inventing and exploring alternative business models as well as entering into economically uncertain times as economic crisis looms on the horizon.
This quantitatively oriented research project investigates the following research question: What are the characteristics of alternative business models in digital ecosystems? Which factors facilitate their development as firms reshape themselves in the face of sudden crisis? This project brings together research on antecedents, processes and consequences associated with organisational reshaping and consider the role of technology as enabler or constraint in this process. The project outline allows for the combination of diverse theoretical and methodological approaches targeting single or multiple organisational levels. The project has good access to the European financial services industry and the fintech community in particular as inroads to original data collection and industry exposure, as well as access to the major academic business data repositories (Icon, Crunchbase, Lexus Nexus, etc.).
For this project you will counselled by and report to your supervisory team lead by Dr Rick (H.L.) Aalbers, Associate Professor of Strategy and Innovation at Radboud University | Institute for Management Research| Centre For Organization Restructuring
As a Marie Curie FINDER PhD Fellow you will (amongst other things) be responsible for delivering prescribed project objectives on time and within budget. You will be collaborating with other researchers at the Institute for Management Research (IMR) at Radboud University and Atos Europe. You will communicate and provide information to academic and industrial supervisors, and regularly attend formal supervisory meetings. While placed at Atos, you will be conducting doctoral research in order to support a dedicated impact case. You will also be expected to attend and prepare reports for regular meetings with other members of the FINDER team, and to report progress, agree future work and exchange data/experience.
A (research) Master’s degree, preferably with a business administration background.
You must be available for a starting date as soon as possible, 1 October 2020 at the latest.
You must meet the Marie Sklodowska-Curie EID programme eligibility requirements: at the time of recruitment, researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the Netherlands for more than 1 year in the 3 years immediately prior to the reference date.
Evidence of independent research skills.
Experience in empirical research.
Demonstrable ability to work independently, to prioritize tasks, manage time and meet deadlines.
Proactive and self-organising.
Willingness to relocate.
Strong interpersonal skills.
High motivation to perform rigorous academic research and collaborate with industry.
Excellent communication skills, including a high standard of written and spoken English.
Willingness to work flexibly where necessary to fulfil the needs of the research project, including international travel and completing the industrial placement.
Affinity with the Financial Services and/or FinTech sector and the turnaround and restructuring theme.
Affinity with new technology and forms of collaboration as technology and new business model drivers.
Knowledge of R (statistics program) or other advanced statistical modelling programs; or advanced qualitative research methods.
Radboud University (RU) in Nijmegen is one of the largest Dutch universities, acclaimed for the quality of teaching and research. RU has seven faculties (including the Nijmegen School of Management) and enrols over 19,899 students. It was internationally ranked 156th by the QS World University Rankings and occupies a prominent position in Europe. RU is currently successfully coordinating 114 European Commission Research projects and 41 H2020 projects, ten of which are MC ITN projects.
The Nijmegen School of Management (NSM) is a leading academic centre of research and higher education, focusing on institutional and managerial issues within complex organisations.
Atos is a global leader in digital transformation with 120,000 employees in 73 countries and an annual revenue of €13 billion. European number one in cloud, cybersecurity and high-performance computing, the group provides end-to-end orchestrated hybrid cloud, big data, business applications and digital workplace solutions through its Digital Transformation Factory, as well as transactional services through Worldline, the European leader in the payment industry. With its cutting-edge technologies and industry knowledge, Atos supports the digital transformation of its clients across all business sectors.
We want to get the best out of science, others and ourselves. Why? Because this is what the world around us desperately needs. Leading research and education make an indispensable contribution to a healthy, free world with equal opportunities for all. This is what unites the more than 22,000 students and 5,000 employees at Radboud University. And this requires even more talent, collaboration and lifelong learning. You have a part to play!
Employment: 40 hours per week.
The gross starting salary amounts to €2,395 per month, and will increase to €3,061 in the fourth year (salary scale P).
In addition to the salary: an 8% holiday allowance and an 8.3% end-of-year bonus.
Duration of the contract: as a FINDER Marie Curie PhD Fellow you will be appointed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years.
The intended start date is as soon as possible, 1 October 2020 at the latest.
Generous benefits from the Marie Curie programme apply for the first three years (including relocation and extended conference funding facilities and travel allowance), after which, in the fourth year, standard Dutch university job-ranking system (UFO) conditions will apply.
Training and research on the intersection of academia and business.
Generous travel allowances for conference and research purposes.
You will be able to make use of our Dual Career Service: our Dual Career Officer will assist with family-related support, such as child care, and help your partner prepare for the local labour market and with finding an occupation.
For more information about this vacancy, please contact: Linda Buis, Project Management Officer FINDER – Marie Curie Initial Training Networks (ITN) Email: email@example.com Applications only via this link.
Please address your application to Linda Buis and submit it, using the application button on the Radboud University site, (here), no later than 8 August 2020, 23:59 Amsterdam Time Zone.
Your application should include the following attachments:
Letter of motivation.
Part of your Master’s thesis.
A two-page essay reflecting on the research question, showcasing your view on potential future research directions and (academic) relevance.
Review of applications will start immediately and will continue until the position is filled. Interviews will be set up digitally and will take place with a selection of the FINDER Selection and Evaluation Team (academic and/or business side of the team). Expect 2 to 4 interviews to be part of the selection procedure.
You will be asked to give a presentation as part of the selection procedure. This presentation will provide us with a better feel for your interest and potential. The presentation must be based on the aforementioned two-page essay, reflecting on the research question and showcasing your view on potential future research directions and (academic) relevance, and should be included in your application.
As the pandemic continues to challenge even the most basic aspects of our everyday life, it’s common to see projects in corporate, academic, and government spaces among many others being majorly disrupted. The association for PhD candidates in The Netherlands, PNN, has discussed at length how the pandemic has ground various PhD projects around the country to a halt.
Luckily, and in no small part due to the already digital nature of the FINDER project’s operations, the project’s fate has not been jeopardized to such a drastic extent. This, of course, does not mean that the pandemic is a faraway concern: it and the threats it presents are very near and have even affected the lives of members of the FINDER team. That said, it’s worth taking stock of what the future of the FINDER project’s research entails at this time.
As has been previously discussed here, the Strategic Management Conference has been cancelled. Additionally, the European Group for Organizational Studies’ Hamburg Colloquium, to which one PhD was slated to go and present his research, has been cancelled (and replaced with a virtual one). While these events are a pity, they also come with a silver lining: the chance to uninterruptedly continue the in-house refining of the PhDs’ research projects (virtually) alongside their Atos and Voleo counterparts as well as to closely monitor their responses as data.
As has been somewhat alluded to here, the switch to a completely digital way of working means a more intense exchange of data between stakeholders and research subjects. The FINDERS are consistently attending strategy meetings with their coaches and informants in the field in order to capture what is turning out to be a bountiful field of research opportunity. This has involved, for example, seeing how clients reorient their strategies and demands for digital infrastructure, as well as seeing how Atos as a firm that provides such is handling the changing landscape of client demands. As more and more companies prepare for a long-term remote operations scenario, additionally observing how these infrastructures move from contingency-to-permanent states will likely elicit interesting conclusions.
This, in short, has shown that researching the phenomena within the project’s scope remotely is not only feasible but, in certain circumstances, preferable. There is, of course, no substitute for shaking hands and making observations physically in the field, but it goes without saying that neither of those opportunities will be an option in the foreseeable future, even if European society is slowly trying to stagger back into normalcy.
What, then, does this look like? From the quantitative angle, not much changes: data files still transfer digitally, and while operations have generally slowed down as different organizations find their footing, the agility with which the FINDERS and their Atos and Voleo counterparts have navigated new norms means that data collection has suffered minimal delays. From the qualitative angle, interviews and “field observations” have been ongoing in digital conference rooms, via email, and the like. While these come with new challenges, they also alleviate old ones. For example, digital conference calls make accounting for who’s saying what when much easier, as in-person meetings tend to move quickly and chaotically when thinking minds reach synergistic levels.
Of course, the pandemic, while tragic, has also exposed the world to new research opportunities, as we have never before seen how highly digital societies deal with wide-scale, debilitating events such as this. Where that goes and whether or not it becomes core to the project’s outputs remains to be determined, but naturally, the pandemic will make its way to some extent into many if not most or even all FINDER publications, which will add weight to what will very likely be a boom in COVID-related research publications in the coming months and years.
FINDER, a competitive Marie Curie Research and Training Program funded by the European Committee stands for: Fostering Innovation Networks in a Digital Era.
The FINDER program sets out to Foster Innovation Networks in a Digital Era (FINDER). Appointed Marie Curie FINDER PhD Fellows will investigate the innovative collaborative arrangement amongst organizations – grassroots, incumbents and the wider society – as they inclusively explore digital technology for new product or market development. Unique features of this European Industrial Doctorate are: an in-depth investigation of innovation dynamics at emergent ecosystems and complex organizations; industry-led complementary training in the domains of Professional Innovation Management; a bespoke program of FINDER network events that bring together doctoral researchers, academics, practicing managers and policymakers interested in innovation and a total of 18 months placement at one of Atos’ European business hubs (Frankfurt / Madrid). The research and training program is driven by a collaboration of Radboud University and Atos, teaming up in this trajectory over a period of four years.
FINDER accommodates five high caliber and full-time PhD positions, facilitating first-class PhD and in-company training at the crossroads of Fintech academia and business. Recently a vacancy has become available. For this purpose we are looking for an intellectually curious candidate who aspires to gain a doctorate in the discipline of Management.
Vacancy: 1 Marie Curie PhD Fellowship in Strategic Management – focused on Fintech (1.0 FTE) FINDER PROJECT, workstream #3: ‘Alternative business models in digital ecosystems’. More information can be found here.
In good times and bad, firms regularly reshape themselves. Firms may re-align organization structure with strategy and changed external circumstances (Puranam & Gulati 2009), intervene to stimulate specific activities (Okhuysen and Eisenhardt 2002; Aalbers, 2019), or downsize during challenging times (Dougherty & Bowman 1995). Also under such challenging circumstances entrepreneurship takes place. Intra/entrepreneurs often have to build organisations in order to perform activities for which markets are not yet ready, or even are the first to render solutions to navigate out of crisis. Accordingly, entrepreneurs and managers must consider the design of business models and even to building businesses to execute transactions which cannot yet be performed in the market. While reshaping firms (e.g., changing structure or size) is both important and frequent, it is also relatively understudied. Moreover, extant research (e.g., on downsizing and turnaround) typically focuses on traditional outcomes (e.g., profits) with less emphasis on such things as collaboration, knowledge creation and innovation at the individual or team levels. The study of business models at the intersection of strategy and entrepreneurship research involves an exploration of how firms do business at the system-level under such challenging conditions. Conditions typical to be expected also in the wake of COVID with economic prospects scaling down substantially across various industries. Such inter-disciplinary investigations are essential for understanding how firms may re-align organization structure with strategy under suddenly changing external circumstances, with the implications of digital transformation potentially helping different emergent ecosystem actors to outperform in this new landscape. Europe’s financial services industry presents an example of these sort of dynamics, facing both technology-driven as well as institutionally-driven challenges in re-inventing and exploring alternative business models as well as entering into economically uncertain times as economic crisis looms on the horizon.
Therefore, this quantitatively oriented research project investigates the following research question: What are the characteristics of alternative business models in digital ecosystems? Which factors facilitate their development as firms reshape themselves in the face of sudden crisis? This project brings together research on antecedents, processes and consequences associated with organizational reshaping and consider the role of technology as enabler or constraint in this process. The project outline allows for the combination of diverse theoretical and methodological approaches targeting single or multiple organizational levels. The project has good access to the European financial services industry and the fintech community in particular as inroads to original data collection and industry exposure as well as access to the major academic business data repositories (Icon, Crunchbase, Lexus Nexus, etc.).
As a Marie Curie FINDER PhD Fellow you will be responsible for:
Delivering prescribed project objectives on time and within budget.
Collaborating with other researchers at the Institute for Management Research (IMR) at Radboud University and Atos Europe.
Communicating and providing information to academic and industrial supervisors including regular attendance at formal supervisory meetings.
Conducting doctoral research while being placed at Atos, in order to support a dedicated impact case.
Attending and preparing reports for regular meetings with other members of the FINDER team, to report progress, agree future work and exchange data/experience.
Marie Curie PhD Fellowship:
Please note that this MARIE SKLODOWSKA-CURIE scheme is funded by the European Commission who has set specific eligibility criteria for this vacancy. The primary objective of the EID program is international mobility (i.e. move from one country to another) and this is a requirement for the Marie Curie PhD Fellow when taking up the appointment. At the time of recruitment by the Radboud University (NL), the candidate must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in The Netherlands for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to her/his recruitment under the project. The Fellow should be within four years of the start of their research career at the time of taking up the position. For details on the Marie Curie Fellowship ITN program please click here.
Successful candidates will also be required to complete an application for and be accepted on the PhD program at Radboud University – Institute for Management Research. Applications from women, who are currently under-represented in this area, will be particularly welcome; however, the final recruitment decision will be based solely on merit. For details on the Radboud IMR Centre for organization
Work environment: Radboud University (RU) in Nijmegen is one of the largest Dutch universities acclaimed for the quality of teaching and research. RU has seven faculties (including the Nijmegen School of Management) and enrols over 19,899 students. It was internationally ranked 156th by the QS World University Rankings and occupies a prominent position in Europe. RU is currently successfully coordinating 114 European Commission Research projects and 41 H2020 projects, ten of which are MC ITN projects. The Nijmegen School of Management (NSM) is a leading academic centre of research and higher education, focusing on institutional and managerial issues within complex organisations.
Atos is a global leader in digital transformation with 120,000 employees in 73 countries and annual revenue of € 13 billion. European number one in Cloud, Cybersecurity and High-Performance Computing, the Group provides end-to-end Orchestrated Hybrid Cloud, Big Data, Business Applications and Digital Workplace solutions through its Digital Transformation Factory, as well as transactional services through Worldline, the European leader in the payment industry. With its cutting-edge technologies and industry knowledge, Atos supports the digital transformation of its clients across all business sectors. The Group is the Worldwide Information Technology Partner for the Olympic & Paralympic Games and operates under the brands Atos, Atos Syntel, Unify and Worldline. Atos is listed on the CAC40 Paris stock index.
employment: 1.0 FTE
the gross starting salary amounts to €2,325 per month based on full-time employment, and will increase to €2,972 in the fourth year (P scale)
in addition to the salary: an 8% holiday allowance and an 8.3% end-of-year bonus
as a FINDER Marie Curie PhD Fellow you will be appointed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years
you will be classified as a PhD Candidate in the Dutch university job-ranking system (UFO)
generous benefits from the Marie Curie apply for the first three years (including relocation and extended conference funding facilities and a travel allowance), after which, in the fourth year, standard Dutch university job-ranking system (UFO) conditions will apply
training and research on the intersection of academia and business
generous travel allowances for conference and research purposes.
you will be able to make use of our Dual Career Service where our Dual Career Officer will assist with family related support, such as child care, and help your partner prepare for the local labour market and with finding an occupation.
hold a (Research) Master’s degree with a business or economics backgorund.
be available for a starting date as soon as possible, per October 1st, 2020 at the latest;
You should meet the Marie Sklodowska-Curie EID program eligibility requirements; :
The primary objective of the EID program is international mobility;
At the time of recruitment by the Radboud University, the candidate must not have resided or carried out their main activity in The Netherlands for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to recruitment under the project;
The Fellow should be an Early Stage Researcher: within four years of the start of their research career;
evidence of independent research skills;
experience in empirical research;
willingness to combine both academic work and practitioner oriented activities (e.g. whitepaper drafting) in collaboration with a selection of the business FINDER partners (Atos, TQ, Voleo)
demonstrable ability to work independently, to prioritize tasks, manage time and meet deadlines;
proactive and self-organizing in the spirit of joint project delivery;
willingness to relocate (Frankfurt / Madrid);
strong interpersonal skills;
high motivation to perform rigorous academic research and collaborate with industry;
excellent communication skills, including a high standard of written and spoken English;
willingness to work flexibly where necessary to fulfil the needs of the research project, including international travel and completing the industrial placement.
affinity with the Financial Services and/or FinTech sector and the turnaround and restructuring theme;
affinity with new technology and forms of collaboration as technology and new business model drivers;
knowledge of R (statistics program) or other advanced statistical modelling programs; or advanced qualitative research methods.
Application and selection process:
Application deadline: July 10th, 2020
Your application is only to be submitted via the “apply” button on the Radboud website and follow instructions. Click here for the vacancy.
Your application should include and be limited to the following attachments:
Letter of motivation;
Part of your Master’s thesis;
a two page essay reflecting on the above research question showcasing your view on potential future research directions and (academic) relevance.
Interviews will be set up digitally and will take place with a selection of the FINDER Selection and Evaluation Team (academic and/or business side of the team).
You will be asked to give a presentation as part of the selection procedure. This presentation provides us with a better feel for your interest and potential. The presentation will be based on your submitted 2 pager.
Informal enquiries: Project Management Office FINDER, Ms Linda Buis: firstname.lastname@example.org
A strategic alliance is commonly defined as any voluntarily initiated cooperative agreement between firms that involves exchange, sharing, or codevelopment, and it can include contributions by partners of capital, technology, or firm-specific assets (e.g., Harrigan, 1985; Gulati, 1995a, 1995b)
Gulati, R. (1999). Network location and learning: The influence of network resources and firm capabilities on alliance formation. Strategic management journal, 20(5), 397-420. p. 397
ownership in a separately incorporatedentity is shared by the partner firms
Mowery, D. C., Oxley, J. E., & Silverman, B. S. (1996). Strategic alliances and interfirm knowledge transfer. Strategic management journal, 17(S2), 77-91. p.79
A buyer–supplier relationship, or partnership, as the set of practices and routines that support economic exchanges between the two firms. A buyer–supplier link refers to the fact that the two firms have been doing business continuously for a given period of time (the link duration)
Kotabe, M., Martin, X., & Domoto, H. (2003). Gaining from vertical partnerships: knowledge transfer, relationship duration, and supplier performance improvement in the US and Japanese automotive industries. Strategic management journal, 24(4), 293-316. p. 294
The patent-license case subsumes know-how licensing.
Appleyard, M. M. (1996). How does knowledge flow? Interfirm patterns in the semiconductor industry. Strategic management journal, 17(S2), 137-154. p.138
associations of firms in a relatively fragmented industry for dealing with more concentrated supply or distribution sectors (Reve 1992; Stern and Reve 1980).
Grandori, A., & Soda, G. (1995). Inter-firm networks: antecedents, mechanisms and forms. Organization studies, 16(2), 183-214. pp. 189-190
multiparty strategic alliances in which three or more parties work on specific parts of a larger project and in which governments are sometimes involved, are sparse (Eisner, Rahman, & Korn, 2009)
Parmigiani, A., & Rivera-Santos, M. (2011). Clearing a path through the forest: A meta-review of interorganizational relationships. Journal of Management, 37(4), 1108-1136. p.1120
co-creation of specialized knowledge—allow firms to leverage knowledge located beyond their organizational boundaries
Lipparini, A., Lorenzoni, G., & Ferriani, S. (2014). From core to periphery and back: A study on the deliberate shaping of knowledge flows in interfirm dyads and networks. Strategic Management Journal, 35(4), 578-595. p.579
g co-branding as a strategic alliance—one which benefits both firms. This mutual benefit can also be a vulnerability that could cause harm to one or both of the firms if one partner does not fulfill their requirements to the alliance (Lebar et al., 2005).
Bourdeau, B. L., Cronin Jr, J. J., & Voorhees, C. M. (2007). Modeling service alliances: an exploratory investigation of spillover effects in service partnerships. Strategic Management Journal, 28(6), 609-622. p.611
Product development as rational plan, commu- nication web, and disciplined problem solving.
Brown, S. L., & Eisenhardt, K. M. (1995). Product development: Past research, present findings, and future directions. Academy of management review, 20(2), 343-378. p. 345
Technological outsourcing alliances allow firms (‘outsourcers’) to specialize deeper in their domain of core competence while relying on outside specialist firms (‘outsourcees’) for complementary expertise and skills (Grant and Baden-Fuller, 2004).
Tiwana, A., & Keil, M. (2007). Does peripheral knowledge complement control? An empirical test in technology outsourcing alliances. Strategic Management Journal, 28(6), 623-634. p.623
Mergers and acquisitions (M&A)
a firm’s overall acquisition and merge activities (total number of acquisitions)
Lin, Z., Peng, M. W., Yang, H., & Sun, S. L. (2009). How do networks and learning drive M&As? An institutional comparison between China and the United States. Strategic management journal, 30(10), 1113-1132. p. 1113
the central firm engages in exchange with its partners, and therefore can share the joint relational capital with them via informal agreements,
Argyres, N., Bercovitz, J., & Zanarone, G. (2020). The role of relationship scope in sustaining relational contracts in interfirm networks. Strategic Management Journal, 41(2), 222-245. p.224
Temporal Joint project
Firms proceed through three temporal stages of interorganizational exchange—initializing, in which firms project their exchange relationship and its benefits into the future; processing, in which firms transact to create and claim value based on their formal and informal obligations; and reconfiguring, in which firms potentially redefine their interorganizational strategies.
Reuer, J. J., Zollo, M., & Singh, H. (2002). Post‐formation dynamics in strategic alliances. Strategic Management Journal, 23(2), 135-151. p. 137
Alliance constellations are strategic alliances formed by multiple partner firms to “compete against other such groups and against tradi- tional single firms” (Gomes-Casseres, 1996: 3). Strategic alliances, in turn, are “interfirm coop- erative arrangements aimed at achieving the strategic objectives of the partners” (Das & Teng, 1998: 491
Das, T. K., & Teng, B. S. (2002). Alliance constellations: A social exchange perspective. Academy of management review, 27(3), 445-456. p. 445
Collaborations range in scope from brief exchanges of knowledge about how a particular problem can be solved to the global assembly of colocated or virtual teams, along with their associated resources.
Fjeldstad, Ø. D., Snow, C. C., Miles, R. E., & Lettl, C. (2012). The architecture of collaboration. Strategic management journal, 33(6), 734-750. p. 740
The FINDER program sets out to Foster Innovation Networks in a Digital Era. Such an ambition cannot be limited to a single industry or a single user group, but is by definition aimed at broader applicability in which social relevance is paramount. In this context, research affiliated with the FINDER project also bridges boundaries to other domains, with recent work by some of the FINDER staff traversing into the field of social science and medicine.
Based on ideas form network theory, we looked into the social interactions as they took place over more than a decade, as we tracked a major English-speaking online health community. Interaction data for the study were collected in July 2017 and consisted of all contributions made this timespan, totaling to 147,561 user profiles and 197,980 discussions, which in turn contain 484,250 replies. Unlike some online health communities, which connect patients with healthcare professionals, the site, which is subject to our study, in intended for non-professionals. The rate of users, who consider themselves as healthcare professionals, is less than one percent. Although a survey conducted by the operators of the community showed that a third of participants claim they visit the website to learn about new and different treatments, the advice sought and given is often not only factually relevant but often emotionally supportive. Similar to a traditional support group, the social exchange amongst peers is encouraged.
The scoping is interesting also in the context of FINDER, that sets out to understand the role of new technology developments in the context of collaborative networks, and we pose, may well infuse notions of effective collaboration and social influencing into more FINTECH attuned online endeavors. A commonality to the ongoings of one of the FINDER project partners – Voleo – hence is rather straightforward, with online peer to peer investment advice banking also on voluntary, discretionary advisory actions by the community constituents.
So what did we find?
When seeking advice online about health concerns, forums dedicated to medical themes are increasingly becoming an appreciated source of information for many individuals. In online health communities, patients can ask questions or otherwise seek advice that is particularly relevant to them. While they may find some of the advice useful, other advice may be perceived as less valuable. By studying the advice-seeking, advice-giving, and advice-evaluation behaviours in one of the largest online health communities in Europe, we looked at what determines which advice is perceived as helpful, and why. Utilising zero-inflated negative binominal modelling, our results show that advice received from others, who have similar predominant interests, is valued more when reaching out for lay expertise. If this advice is given by peers, who can also draw on expertise from other health areas, allowing for a combination of diverse “lay” expertise, the advice is valued even more. Advice provided by those who are quick to obtain the latest knowledge available in the larger community further reinforces these effects. Our findings offer an original view to understand the influence of lay expertise exchanged via online health communities and hold implications for both policy-makers and medical practitioners regarding their approach to patient-initiated use of social media for health-related reasons.
Policy wise our study is interesting also. From various fields, researchers and policymakers have made efforts to understand the behavioural and social causes of human behaviour in health communities. With the advent of online communities, online health communities continue to challenge healthcare professionals in their health advice, being called upon to provide for an alternative of validating opinions. Indeed, also historically, individuals have probably always sought advice about their health status from peers, yet, facilitated by the pervasive adoption of digital technologies and digitally enabled infrastructures in the healthcare domain, patients can now do so much more readily and pervasively, contacting distant peers as well. As a consequence, policymakers and medical professionals should prepare for patients to possibly have already sought extensive advice when they request medical services. These insights may well transcend beyond the boundaries of the health community – fueling new ideas in other tech enabled domains of interaction, we pose.
For policymakers, these insights are of specific relevance. Being better informed about what determines which advice is found to be valuable by people, who seek advice, and why helps in making more accurate assessments on the conditions under which patients will follow through in their treatment trajectory. With studies repeatedly suggesting adherence to medical treatment plans to be a primary determinant of treatment success, being able to better predict individual-level perception of advice quality received holds value. Indeed, failure to adhere not only affects patients but also the healthcare system as it drives costs and constrains healthcare capacity. For policymakers in the health domain, adopting suitable techniques to link into peer advice in online health communities provides an opportunity to improve treatment plan adherence. Also in the initial, orientating phase on health advice, further insight into the relational conditions that drive or constrain patients from using medical advice, can be of assistance to health care professionals such as physicians, pharmacists and nurses. In their daily practice, they are increasingly required to interact with patients that second guess, or at the very least cross check their medical advice via online health communities. For instance, in relation to the worry medical professionals might have about the nature of the advice individuals receive online, our study suggests that the more medical terms are used in a reply, and the more serious or ‘risky’ the condition the advice seeker’s question is about, the less likely it is that the advice is perceived as helpful. However, slightly longer texts are liked more.
Additionally, and from the viewpoint of the medical advisee, the medical advice received through the formal healthcare channels may or may not be correct, or may fail to take account of the advisee’s complete medical situation, and may or may not be correctly interpreted. This view, predicated on the assumption that professional medical advice is to be contrasted with peer advice, is a substantial concern for many, and yet virtual advising on healthcare related themes is increasing rapidly and will most likely continue doing so. While we cannot ascertain what the medical quality of the advice obtained for the advisee is, we are able to determine how much they appreciated the advice. We find that when advisers are able to connect readily to advice-seekers because they have a similar knowledge background, this substantially increases the chances of the advice given being valued (‘liked’). When the adviser also has knowledge from other medical knowledge domains he or she can leverage as well, the advice is appreciated even more. This finding suggests that medical advice seekers value advice givers, who have a degree of empathy, which may be something professional medical advice givers may need to acknowledge somewhat more.
Additional qualitative research – as currently going on within the FINDER project amongst others – will need to confirm this, but our findings suggest that perhaps many individuals, even among those who are actively seeking advice, come to seek initial information and perhaps mostly consolation, and perhaps pointers of where to look for additional information. One speculation could be that advice seekers are preparing for a consultation with a medical professional – this could explain why advisees do not like medical terms in responses. In this latter interpretation, the peer advice individuals receive is not to be contrasted with the advice medical professionals extend. A broader or deeper understanding of what it means for an advisee to “like” a response to their question, and if, or how, peer and professional advice may be interpreted and valued using different metrics, would add to the quantitative study of the patterns of behaviour in the full network that we analysed. With recent advances in digital technologies such as blockchain, virtual and augmented realities, future work may also want to look into the type of online communities in further detail, advancing our understanding on how the advance of digital technology in the health care domain gives rise to new opportunities for patient-peer advice. By the very nature of our single case study design our study does not allow for such comparison, yet helps to trigger thoughts on how the use of digital technology may change the way value is created and extracted amongst patients and health care professionals as they engage in online health platforms.
Data has become a ubiquitous term that is discussed as a core asset for companies. Organizations need data to develop new business models, fuel their services, and hence, stay competitive in a world, flushed with information.
But how to balance data harvesting and preserving privacy? Companies should strive towards building convenient and individual privacy to ensure customer trust.
Where do companies stand?
Data privacy is perceived as something that is under constant threat by companies. However, most data-harvesting organizations cannot be accused of operating outside country law. Perceived violations of privacy, as an intrusion into seclusion, are rather emerging from harming social norms than actual contravention of the law. This is what research has described as creepiness: you know that Facebook can target tailor-made adds to your current desires. This is not illegal but still feels, well, creepy. Eric Schmitt, the former CEO of Google as an example of a particular data-hungry company, even once said that the company strategy was to design services on the edge of tolerated creepiness. The perceived creepiness often arises from a lack of understanding of the ramifications of sharing personal data. Therefore, the question prevails on how to empower customers so that they become aware of the negative and positive implications of giving up privacy?
Informed consent is only the first step
While regulatory endeavors are pushing transparency into how companies are using personal data, this is often limited to informed consent. Yet, there are two problems associated with informed consent.
First, customers might not possess the time or expertise to understand the ramifications of data usage provided in the privacy agreement. For instance, if an average user was reading all privacy agreements he or she encounters over a year, they would need seventy-six working days to do so. Moreover, it is difficult to calculate the harm that can be done with the exposed data, as non-personal data can become personal through merging it with different data sources let alone the opportunities of data usage that are far from being fully explored.
Secondly, it is often practically impossible to opt out of invasive data gathering by companies without effectively opting out of society and human contact. Imagine the community of your favorite hobby organizes themselves on Facebook or WhatsApp. It will be difficult to convince everyone to join a more privacy-preserving service if the current platforms are well-established, extremely convenient to use, and overall cost-free. Consequently, individuals face a trade-off between excluding themselves from society or giving up privacy. This explains the prevailing privacy paradox: people are concerned about data privacy but are not acting accordingly. Not because they effectively do not care but because it is really hard.
Convenient and individual privacy
The idea of convenient and individual privacy is based on two main principles. First, companies have to strive towards full transparency of data usage and present it in an understandable format to customers. In a world that is striving towards customer-centricity and convenience of services, it is remarkable how complicated and blurry privacy terms are still formulated. Secondly, customers have to be able to select their personal level of intrusion. The willingness to share data might not be equally distributed among society. Some individuals might weigh the benefits of giving up privacy stronger than others and are hence, more likely to accept a higher level of intrusion. Achieving convenient privacy will lay the foundation for establishing trusting relationships with customers. Trust, as a key enabler of commerce, intimacy, and free expression, enables customers to safely disclose personal data in long-term relationships. This unique data can lead to unique services, which makes convenient privacy an enabler for building competitive advantages.
The scientific review panel of the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings has selected the FINDER Fellow Barbara Voelkl to participate in the 7th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences. Nobel Laureates in Economic Sciences and young scientists from around the globe attend the Meeting to exchange knowledge and discuss current social and economic matters as well as recent discoveries in their field. Barbara together with 372 young scientists from 60 countries will meet Laureates of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel in August 2021. Due to the spread of Covid-19, this year’s activities circle around the Online Science Days 2020 and the Online Sciathon this summer.
Max Tegmark, professor of physics at the MIT, points out in his latest book (Life 3.0 – Being human in the age of artificial intelligence) that “in the future, the only traded resource will be knowledge” because knowledge-driven technology will be able to create all sorts of matter just by reassembling atoms. That sounds far-fetched but even today companies that harvest and utilize data, the precursor of knowledge, are among the highest-valued firms globally. However, you don’t see price tags on all the data that is floating on the internet, because markets have not yet developed. I will inform you from an economic perspective why that hasn’t and why it actually should.
Of course, already today you trade your data in exchange for services. If that hits you by surprise, I recommend a short reading of the terms of service on your Facebook account (if you still have one). Yet, given the margins of big tech companies, the deal could be more profitable for producers and also more transparent. Markets could help to distribute data’s benefits more equally and make data trade less opaque.
Researchers at the University of Amsterdam approached the issue of lacking data markets from a scientific perspective. They defined data commoditization and market mechanisms by proposing six data properties that could pave the way for building solid data markets.
Data sovereignty addresses data ownership. Compared to oil, data, as an economic good, is non-rivalry, meaning that data can be copied and shared infinitely.
Trustworthiness (or trusted data) refers to data being verifiable and auditable. Data is becoming a decisive element of automated decision-making and therefore it has to be trusted. A consumer at a gas station does not have to check the gas for its quality because all parties involved in the gas value chain have agreed on industry standards.
Data reusability ensures that data is stored and can be gathered for future projects and applications. Well, oil doesn’t make such a great job here either.
Actionability demands that data purchased by a company is directly applicable to its value chain. Meaning companies should be able to assess the economic gains or savings through data acquisition before purchasing the data. In the oil industry, companies have estimates for the returns they can expect from acquiring a specific amount of oil through a trade market and established value chains.
Finally, measurability refers to the valuation of data. There are different approaches to conduct the pricing of data.
First, there is the cost-based method, which is based on the idea that data creation, sharing, storage, and analysis are costly and therefore should determine the price.
Second, there is problem-based pricing where the consumer sets a price and the providers react upon. Current examples for the latter are tournaments on data science platforms such as Kaggle.
Also, the price depends on the data quality which hinges on multiple factors. For instance, the number of variables and cases, the precision, the accuracy, the actuality, and the temporal resolution of a data set. In an existing market for data, pricing would be much easier through processes of comparison with similar data assets.
What is the current status across significant industries? A look into the (European) perspective.
Currently, data commoditization is mostly pursued by huge tech companies. As they do both the data harvesting and monetization, there is little incentive for them to engage in the creation of transparent data markets. In Europe, the European Union has set the agenda for the creation of open data markets to facilitate digital transformation. To not fall further behind the curve, industries sitting on huge piles of data, e.g. incumbent banks, should embrace the establishment of open data markets as an opportunity.
Demchenko, Y., Los, W., & de Laat, C. (2018). Data as Economic Goods: Definitions, Properties, Challenges, Enabling Technologies for Future Data Markets. ITU Journal: ICT Discoveries, Special Issue “Data for Goods”.