Working Streams

FINDER operates through 5 dedicated research themes, all pivoting around the same theme: Innovative Fintech collaborations.

FINDER accommodates five high caliber and fulltime PhD positions, facilitating first class PhD- training, as well as first class in-company training at the crossroads of Fintech academia and business.

The FINDER program sets out to Foster Innovation Networks in a Digital Era (FINDER). A team of affiliated Marie Curie FINDER PhD Fellows 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
  • 18 months placement at one of Atos’ major European business hubs.

Five dedicated research themes

These 5 pieces line out the future of Fintech collaboration in a complex stakeholder field.

The 5 projects include:

  1. Managing innovation in the networked organisation
  2. Dynamic capabilities for competitiveness in the digital era
  3. Alternative business models in digital ecosystems
  4. Seizing the future: fostering collaborative entrepreneurship
  5. Effective strategies and policies for enhanced social payoff, during and after digital transformation

Project 1:

The advancement of digital technologies has created new opportunities for identifying, absorbing and utilising original knowledge that, in turn, enables innovation. The exponential growth in the volume and pace of available knowledge requires new approaches and practices for the management of innovation. These practices include collaborative and open processes and routines for the generation of new idea, for filtering and selecting ideas and finally for implementing the selected ideas. Moreover, appropriate organisational structures and governance mechanisms need to be in place to support this process, able to deal with a multitude of stakeholders, as found in digital technology-driven fields for innovation, such as Europe’s reorienting financial services sector. Close attention is paid to managerial practices, which revolve around including people at different levels of organisations, as well as people outside organisations, in strategy and innovation processes. The following research question guides this project:

Central RQ: How do digital technologies influence systems, practices and processes for the effective management of innovation within and across organisations?

Project 2:

Many established firms have failed to adapt effectively to the disruptive forces in the environment. Recent examples of this phenomenon include Blockbuster, Eastman Kodak, HMV, Lehman Brothers and Nokia. Such failures tend to be particularly prevalent when the nature of external change is discontinuous, similar to what the digital transformation has involved. The digital transformation requires firms to reconfigure their existing ways of working, having to rethink their assumptions about how to succeed in their chosen industry. Europe’s financial services are an example of such industries, shaken up by the recent advancements in digital technology. Incumbents need to adjust their processes and to organise in ways that allow for sensing and seizing external emerging opportunities. The adaptation processes require bottom-up, horizontal and top-down flows of knowledge-sharing, decision-making and resource allocation processes. The open research question to be answered is:

What firm level and individual level factors give rise to organisations’ adaptability in response to disruptive forces? How?

Project 3:

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 questions: 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.). To reiterate, this project investigates the following research questions:

What are the characteristics of alternative business models in digital ecosystems? Which factors facilitate their development?

Project 4:

It is essential to look into the dynamics of entrepreneurship networks within the digital ecosystem. In particular, the way that networks of entrepreneurship can be fostered by system-level factors is explored, as well as the way that activities and initiatives are driven by large organisations. When it comes to digital transformation, limited effort has been devoted to researching the internal organisation of entrepreneurial ventures and the constitutive elements of the internal organisation in firms. There is an interesting variety among technology start-ups and significant deviancies from the standard evolutionary path which indicates opportunities for founders to make key choices with consequences for a venture’s future success. Different modes of collaborative entrepreneurship may drive different learning routines across the ecosystem, that are important to understand before it becomes viable to scale-up successful business models to other domains. To create guidelines for entrepreneurs and for effective new business creation in the digital era, FINDER focuses on questions such as:

What are the internal and external contingencies that explain the diverse organisational arrangements seen in new ventures? How does the internal organisation of entrepreneurial ventures interact with governance, ownership, industry and geography?

Project 5:

This project looks into the societal impact of digital transformation and the way that sustainable strategies by organisations can benefit a society during and after a digital transformation. Organisations individually and collectively play critical roles in sustainability aspects of the digital transformation, as they develop new products, processes and technologies, establishing common industry standards and negotiating for regulatory support. Next to institutional forces effectuating social payoff, strategic action by organisations may also instill (unforeseen) social payoff to society as resources get reallocated elsewhere and as employees get reemployed, potentially infusing external innovation. Because of the magnitude of the challenges and the complexity that comes with such paradoxical forces, the digital transformation needs to be investigated from a sustainability perspective. FINDER intends to answer questions such as:

What are the roles, challenges and opportunities for incumbent firms and newcomers for a sustainable transition to digital technologies? How can organisations overcome struggles over the meaning of sustainability, within and across organisational fields, as the digital ecosystem unfolds?

This project (FINDER) has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 813095.