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Challenges in establishing sustainable innovation.



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Association for Information Systems
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ECIS 2011 Proceedings European Conference on Information Systems
Anders Hjalmarsson
Mikael Lind
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Recommended Citation
Hjalmarsson, Anders and Lind, Mikael, "CHALLENGES IN ESTABLISHING SUSTAINABLE INNOVATION" (2011). ECIS 2011
Proceedings. Paper 148.
Hjalmarsson, Anders, Viktoria Institute, Hörselgången 4, 417 56, Göteborg, Sweden,
Lind, Mikael, Viktoria Institute, Hörselgången 4, 417 56, Göteborg, Sweden,
Within the field of information systems an interest in environmental issues has driven the agenda for
research from green IT improvement to sustainable innovation. A challenge yet to investigate is how
sustainable innovation involving a cluster of actors from multiple settings should be 1) designed and
2) orchestrated so that the innovation performed enables sustainable change. Processes for launching
sustainable innovation should consequently be analysed in order to further investigate this notion. In
northern Europe there is today a strong drive towards enabling initiatives utilizing mobile information
technology improving the everyday transportation of people. This paper analysis the launch of a
research and innovation cluster with the aim to develop information infrastructures and processes that
stimulate distributed development of digital services for everyday travel. Events performed during the
two-year start-up have been analysed identifying essential actions for network design and innovation
orchestration, creating hypotheses, which enables further research about the establishment of
sustainable innovation.
Keywords: Sustainable innovation, Network design, Innovation orchestration, Public transportation
1 Introduction
The earth consists of limited energy resources. In our society today, there exists material
infrastructures and services designed and offered by man which requires the use of such limited
resources. This could be to transport goods or to being transported as a person. Examples of material
infrastructures in these situations are train/railway, trucks/roads, buses/roads etc, and examples of
services are public transportation. These systems of transportation all consume energy and also creates
an impact in the environment; i.e. emissions e.g. CO2, NOx and Noise.
Pitt et al (2011), Watson et al (2010; 2011) and Melville (2010) argue that information systems have a
role in reducing the consumption of energy and thus also emissions from such utilization. One of the
core concepts in the model that Watson et al (2010) presents, the energy informatics framework, is the
notion of eco-goals. Three broad eco-goals are prominent: eco-efficiency, eco-effectiveness and eco-
equity (Dyllick and Hockerts 2002). Eco-efficiency is about using e.g. existing infrastructures in more
eco-efficient ways than the current use signify. Eco-effectiveness strives beyond eco-efficiency
stimulating a change of behavior in regard to energy consumption; e.g. performing transportation in
other ways than today, in order to reach the same transport goal but with other means. The third goal,
eco-equity, is about fairness in current consumption of energy in regard to future generations
possibility to use the earths scarce energy resources.
Reports have been made that there is a potential in increasing the co-utilization of the public
transportation infrastructure provided in societies (UITP, 2010). There are also reports suggesting that
one mechanism to increase co-utilization of public transportation is enhanced use of transportation and
traffic information. Such information would enable travelers to better integrate public transportation in
their everyday life (UITP, 2008). Due to that consumers have to utilize existing infrastructure and
consume resources in more eco-efficient, eco-fair and eco-effective ways, there is a need for providing
information systems for the co-ordination of such utilization. Importantly however, a solitary focus on
environmental sustainability would not create desired effects. The scope of sustainability need to be
expanded to include economic and social dimensions as well in order to create desired effects by
people’s changed behavior (e.g. Melville, 2010). An unresolved quest is still how information systems
can be designed to increase the value (economic and social) of public transportation for consumers and
at the same time stimulate travelers to make travel decision with the environmental impact as a factor
for decisions ahead of, during and after transportation.
van Osch and Avital (2010) and Dao et al (2011) argues that the focus on environmental issues in
information systems should go beyond both reducing and managing IT-footprint and the challenge
how information systems could be used to measure CO2 emission and energy consumption. Instead, to
reach impact from innovation, they propose that a broader lens to be adapted that stimulates the
creation of positive ecological solutions which improves the environment as well as provides social
and economic value for users and stakeholders (c.f. also Elliot, 2011). van Osch and Avital (2010)
label this intertwined approach to IS/IT development sustainable innovation. This pinpoints an
interesting idea to the challenge of accomplishing eco-goals with new innovative green IS. Designing
them in order to reach impact should not just be directed towards one of the three bottom line pillars of
sustainability (Elkington, 1998), the environmental dimension of sustainability. Sustainable innovation
should also encompass actions that ensure that green IS produces economic value (e.g. new business
and/or improved productivity) and social value (e.g. amusement and/or safety), the other two bottom
line pillars in sustainable development (Elkington, 1998).
Innovation in its core is about spanning and even breaking existing boarders. Using eco-goals as
directions for the open-ended process of innovation means the involvement of a number of
stakeholders. In their framework for energy informatics Watson et al (2010) divides stakeholders into
three sub-groups: consumers, suppliers and government. On a general level, consumers as depicted
above, represent the users of the material infrastructure that is provided to transport people in a
collective matter; i.e. via means of public transportation. These consumers are however also the users
of information systems that improve the value of public transportation from environmental, social and
economic perceptions. Suppliers in this sense are the suppliers of the material infrastructure used for
public transport and the suppliers of the information systems that improve the use of these common
means of transportation. The government is from one angle the body that provides regulation for how
to operate and use public transport, and from another angle a major stakeholder in establishing a
society which advocates that inhabitants and organizations acts in sustainable ways.
The fundamental hypothesis driving our research is that sustainable innovation in order to be
successful requires the participation and collaborative power from numerous stakeholders of different
types; spanning from consumers, suppliers to governments. We believe that this especially is the case
when sustainable innovation is performed to create positive systems solutions within the area of public
transportation. The process of establishing an innovation cluster (network) of participating
stakeholders is thus the unit of analysis in this paper, and the research question addressed is which
essential actions are performed when sustainable innovation is established? The analysis of such
essential actions creates a basis to formulate specific hypothesis stating what might be required when
sustainable innovation is established.
In the next section we elaborate on sustainable innovation and the domain public transportation. This
is followed by an investigation into the theoretical notion of network design and innovation
orchestration as a framework by which the activity of establishing an innovation cluster for sustainable
innovation could be analyzed. A section describing the research approach applied for exploring the
research question then follows this. The empirical case is presented and it is followed by a discussion
which presents the results of the analysis; i.e. hypothesis of essential actions for an innovation
orchestrator the hub organization of an innovation network when establishing a cluster of
participating stakeholders in sustainable innovation. A section with conclusions and future research
wraps up the paper.
2 Theoretical Framework
The research question in this paper addresses the establishment of sustainable innovation, with a
special focus on the actions performed for network design and innovation orchestration during this
first phase (c.f. figure 1). In this chapter the notion of sustainable innovation is explained in section 2.1
and in section 2.2 the domain of public transport. The theoretical framework used in order to
understand network design and innovation orchestration is presented in section 2.3.
Establish Innovate Evaluate
Figure 1: Establishing sustainable innovation in public transportation
2.1 From Green IT to Sustainable Innovation
In this section a shift is described from a focus on Green IT to sustainable innovation, which has a
broader focus than merely making IT more eco-efficient and goes beyond reducing IT’s energy
consumption through green IT initiatives. Murugesan (2008) states that green IT refers to
environmentally sound information technology. The notion involves the investigation and practice of
designing, manufacturing, using, and disposing computers, servers, and associated subsystems
(printers, monitors, hard drives, networking, and communications systems) efficiently and effectively
with minimal or no impact on the environment. Green IT also strives to achieve economic viability
and improved system performance and use.
Watson et al (2008) who recognise green IT, do also expand the focus by adding the notion of green
IS, which has a greater connotation because it tackles a larger challenge than green IT. Green IS refers
to the design and implementation of IS which contribute to that processes become environmentally
friendly. Frameworks to assist in the development of green IS becomes therefore vital (Watson et al,
2008:3). One example is the energy informatics framework (Watson et al, 2010), which presents a
supply and demand system with both social and technical components. It consists of a set of core
categories: eco-goals, stakeholders, policies and regulations, corporate norms, information systems,
sensor networks, flow networks and sensitized objects, and relationships between them. The
framework is designed to aid in the development of environmentally sound socio-technical systems.
van Osch and Avital (2010) investigates the expansion from green IT to green IS/IT with the notion of
sustainability as criteria. They argue that green IT consider information technologies as a part of the
environmental problem and addresses the question of how to reduce the environmental footprint from
technology by cutting carbon emissions, energy consumption, and waste throughout the lifecycle of
information technologies. Green IS, they state, considers information technologies and information
systems as parts in the solution of the environmental problem and this field analyses systems potential
role in supporting organizations to manage their environmental footprint. However, the ecological
dimension is just one of three pillars of sustainability (Elkington, 1998). Sustainability also includes
the pillars of social and economic sustainability not enough addressed in green IS/IT (van Osch and
Avital, 2010).
Sustainability stands for the capacity to endure (e.g. to remain, continue, sustain). In order to maintain,
change or innovate new sustainable social and technical systems the economic value must be
addressed. van Osch and Avital (2010) claim that sustainable innovation is about an industry's
fundamental motivation to take responsibility for all stakeholders, future generations and the
environment itself. Industries, privately or governmentally owned businesses, are in the forefront in
generating new innovations (Dao et al, 2011). In order to turn our societies into more environmental
sound, every idea of new green IS/IT should be turned into a business idea in order to trigger technical
and social innovation. In addition, sustainable innovation also highlights the importance of multi-
stakeholder innovation (van Osch and Avital, 2010:3): "i.e. of collective engagements among
businesses, governments, educational institutions, and the community for generating
sustainability." This is in line with Watson et al (2010) who points out that innovating new green
IS/IT needs involvement of several different stakeholders. During sustainable innovation these
different stakeholders needs to become engaged in the proactive process of generating sustainable
value. This creates the basis for a well-designed partnership, which Elkington (1998) argues is needed
in order to succeed with a sustainable enterprise.
2.2 The public transportation domain
Innovation is always related to something, e.g. products, processes, technical and/or social systems. In
regard to transportation of people, innovation could be done in relation to all or a particular of these
aspects. This steams from a need to establish an efficient transportation system of people, locally and
globally. The daily situation in local and global environments is characterized by different sustainable
problems like traffic congestion, air pollution, limited accessibility as with more general policy and
quality issues related to residents’ everyday life situations. This has spearheaded efforts to change the
modal split of transport from individuals in cars to collective and/or environmental friendly means of
transport and in Watson et al (2011) four such initiatives are evaluated based on information drives
Franzén (1999ab) states the attractiveness and quality of the travel and transport services made
available by public transport authorities and organizations must be increased in order to succeed with
innovations in the transportation domain. Watson et al (2011) has a similar line of argument as they
conclude that a public transport initiative (a new bus system) in Santiago failed partly because it was
launched before the complementing information system was operational. Franzén (1999ab) points out
that dynamic digital services should be at the heart of stimulating innovation in this domain and
address a need for a holistic view on public transportation in order to achieve these services. In
Franzén (1999ab) a framework is presented for understanding the public transportation process from
this holistic viewpoint. The framework could be used to design digital services for public
transportation. The domain consists of a complex set of supply and demand systems, including e.g.
subsystems, actor dynamic relationships, and conditions/disturbances from other social and technical
systems. In relation to van Osch and Avitals' (2010) call for multi-stakeholder innovation during
sustainable innovation, Franzén (1999b) gives important insights to the public transportation process
in regard to which stakeholders that should constitute a cluster of innovators in a sustainable
innovation endeavor. Different types of stakeholders are defined in the framework such as operators,
traffic control operators, passengers/travelers, administrators, politicians, and service providers.
2.3 Design and orchestration of innovation networks
An innovation cluster resembles the notion of an innovation network, which could be viewed as a
loosely coupled system of autonomous organizations (Dhanaraj and Parkhe, 2006). The loosely
coupled stakeholders in an innovation network have been described as a system having its subsystems
being both decoupled and tightly coupled (Orton and Weick, 1991). In innovation networks different
organizations could be conceived as taking different roles. Three types of network roles hub, semi-
peripheral, and peripheral are identified by Gulati and Gargiulo (1999). As pointed out by Watson et
al (2010), van Osch and Avital (2010), and Franzén (1999b) social systems, in society, besides
organizations also consists of consumers and governmental agencies which widen the innovation
network to a cluster of members organisations, agencies and the public.
Dhanaraj and Parkhe (2006) identify the hub firm as the orchestrator of innovation networks. This
entity possesses prominence and power gained through individual attributes and a central position in
the network/cluster structure using its prominence and power to perform leadership when pulling
together the dispersed resources and capabilities from different members in the network/cluster. It is
assumed that each actor in the network/cluster actively will pursue their own self-interest and that the
hub firm influence networks mainly through network design and innovation orchestration activities
(c.f. figure 2).
Innovation orchestration includes a set of deliberate, purposeful actions undertaken by the hub firm as
it seeks to create value (expand the pie) and extract value (gain a larger slice of the pie) from the
network. Network design consists of recruitment processes, which enables the hub firm to adjust the
size in the network, the position in the network and its structure. Dhanaraj and Parkhe (2006) explain
three processes for designing the innovation network/cluster. They argue that the focus for the hub
firm is then recruitment. By a strategic choice of partners the hub firm can influence the cluster by
significantly changing network membership (size and diversity) and structure (density and autonomy).
With the help of these activities the hub firm can control its position in the network, keeping its
centrality and status.
Dhanaraj and Parkhe (2006) identifies three fundamental orchestration activities which a hub firm
must perform to manage network innovation output; knowledge mobility, innovation appropriability,
and network stability. Knowledge - the chief currency in innovation work - is the value exchanged in
the network/cluster. Research organizations would thus potentially be an essential actor in such a
setting. Knowledge mobility is defined as the ease of how knowledge is shared, acquired, and
deployed within the network. Three sub-processes to enable knowledge mobility are presented:
knowledge absorption, network identification and inter-organizational socialization (Dhanaraj and
Parkhe, 2006).
The second task of orchestration is managing innovation appropriability that governs an innovator’s
ability to capture the profits generated by an innovation. Three sub-processes, which the hub firm
should focus on in relation to this task, are: trust, procedural justice and joint asset ownership
(Dhanaraj and Parkhe, 2006:663). The third form of orchestration is activities fostering network
stability, which is referred to as dynamic stability. Dynamic stability aims for a nonnegative growth
rate allowing for entry and exit of network members. As orchestrator, a hub firm can increase the
networks dynamic stability by enhancing reputation, lengthening the shadow of the future, and by
building multiplexity (Dhanaraj and Parkhe, 2006:664).
Figure 2: Innovation network design and orchestration (based on Dhanaraj and Parkhe, 2006)
We argue based on our theoretical review that innovation network design and orchestration is not
adequate addressed in regard to sustainable innovation. The research question in this paper address
which essential actions that should be performed in order to establish sustainable innovation. As
perspective to govern the analysis the framework provided by Dhanaraj and Parkhe (2006) is used to
guide the analysis. The result of the analysis creates both the prerequisites to 1) develop hypotheses
for essential actions when sustainable innovation is established to be validated later, and 2) refine the
used framework.
3 Research Design and Case Description
3.1 Research design
Empirically this paper is based on a two-year (2008-2010) period of recruiting members, establishing
finance, and performing diagnosing and designing actions within the program Innovation for
sustainable everyday travel (ISET). In 2010 the program has managed to recruit 16 members spread as
4 research organisations, 3 information providers, 4 service developers/providers and 5 sponsors. The
total turnover is 2010 more than 3 MEuro and being a regional initiative it is now gaining strong
resonance on national and European level. The research approach adopted in the paper is an
empirically driven theory development building on established theory related to public transport,
sustainable innovation and network innovation for the purpose of investigating the nature and effects
of sustainable innovation. By this report on experiences from a local practice situation we hope to
enable other initiatives that would be transferable to general practice and the scientific body of
knowledge. Empirically, we base ourselves on the analysis done of action design research actions
(Sein et al, 2011) performed by the team acting on behalf of the hub organization. Secondly, we base
ourselves on 25 interviews and video recorded workshops performed by the same team with involved
members of the network for the purpose of conducting a diagnosis in a canonical action research spirit
(Susman, 1983). Essential actions performed by the network hub have from these data been
reconstructed. The actions have been brought forward for the purpose of developing hypotheses to
0 $ Size
0 $ Diversity
0 $ Density
0 $ Autonomy
0 $ Centrality
0 $ Status
Network(design Innovation(orchestration
further investigate how sustainable innovation is established and how network design and innovation
orchestration could be understood. Our conception of an hypothesis, in this setting, is founded in the
idea of generalizing essential actions, based on empirical experiences from the establishment of the
research program, that seem to be of importance for network design and innovation orchestration
informed by the framework put forward by Dhanaraj and Parkhe (2006). The identified hypotheses are
to be seen as challenges in establishing sustainable innovation, to govern and be tested in further
In our analysis we rely on the same division of actions as proposed by Dhanaraj and Parkhe (2006),
i.e. making a distinction between orchestrating actions for network management activities and network
design actions for network recruitment processes. This is done to both address the challenges in
establishing of an innovation network initiative and as a foundation for adaptation of the framework to
address sustainable innovation.
3.2 Case description
The Viktoria Institute ( was founded in 1997 at the initiative of the local industry in
the West Region of Sweden. The mission of the institute is to perform research and innovation on
applied information technology to support Swedish automotive and transport industry to achieve
sustainable development and growth. Working towards these goals makes Viktoria an appropriate hub
firm in innovation projects where the objective is to innovate information systems that support either
sustainable vehicles or processes. In the beginning of 2008 members of the Viktoria Institute teamed
up with members from governmental agencies and transport authorities in the West of Sweden with
the common task to decrease car commuting in the context of city and regional growth. Main
stakeholders were members from the so-called DART-group; a joint collaboration set up by public
transport authorities in the Western Region of Sweden. A pre-study was performed in late 2008 and
early 2009 analysing how a joint digital infrastructure (a gateway) could be defined in order to open
up information resources that the public authorities possess with travel and transport data (real-time
and static data). The conclusion was that the overall aim with this "gateway" should be to stimulate
parties outside the public authorities to, in a distributed way, develop new digital services that
facilitate travellers to access, and use, means of public transport. During 2009 the pre-study was
reorganized as an innovation program, labelled Innovation for sustainable everyday travel (ISET).
ISET was divided into six interconnected work packages. In order to stimulate that the work covered
all three pillars of sustainability three of the packages each addressed ecological sustainability (WP:
Environmental sustainability), economic sustainability (WP: Business design) and social sustainability
(WP: Travellers current and future needs). These interconnected work packages creates condition for
the engine in the innovation work. The engine consists of two interconnected work packages focusing
the stimulation of infrastructure innovation (WP: Digital infrastructure) and service innovation (WP:
Digital services). The sixth work packages (WP: Project design and orchestration) stages, coordinates
and evaluate the work in the different work packages. The work performed in this latter work package
forms the basis for the analysis made in this paper.
4 Analysis
Due to space limitations we do not have the possibility to present a longer story of the case in this
paper. In our analysis of the consecutive course of events, different orchestration actions as well as
network design actions have been identified. These are captured within eight (no. 0-7) key innovation
events and two (no. 1-2) key research events during the establishment of the program Innovation for
sustainable everyday travel (ISET) (c.f. table 1 and figure 3 below). The main motive for this
sustainable innovation endeavour was a frustration about lead times and coverage of services
previously constructed by involved authorities, and the pressure from the Swedish society to
strategically expand the market share of public transportation with 50% until 2025, in order cope with
different sustainable problems like traffic congestion, air pollution, and limited accessibility. In the
beginning of 2009 Viktoria Institute was trusted by the stakeholders as the hub firm to lead the
transformation of the results from the pre-study into ISET for innovating Green IS solutions that
should meet these challenges (key innovation event 0). The pre-study gained valuable insights as the
basis for further recruitment of network members (of heterogeneous (private/public/research)
organizations) and initiated a successful fund raising effort during 2009 and 2010.
Network design actions
Key Innovation Event 1: Towards the first approved funding - Sjuhärads kommunalförbund (spring-09)
Differentiation of the stakeholders in an inner and an outer circle
Initiation of the process of raising network funding from multiple sources
Jointly design of appealing applications directed to Sjuhärads
kommunalförbund (7H) and Vinnova
Definition of six work packages; Administration (WP1), Infrastructure
Innovation (WP2), Service Innovation (WP3), Today’s and Future procedures
of Everyday Travel (WP4), Value Chains and Business Models (WP5), and
Sustainability (WP6).
Approved funding from 7H (112 K cash and 112 K in-kind) and Swedish
ICT (56 K) for the period 2009 2011 (and that 7H joined as a member of
the network)
Stability management during
establishment of an in-novation
cluster/system when enhancing
the reputation of the hub firm
and via building multiplexity
The use of affiliations to other
research institutes by the core
team at Viktoria.
Increased possibility of
Key Innovation Event 2: Towards a common design vision in the innovation network (fall-09)
Improvement of the
networks density by co-
finance from University
of Borås (862 K) and
other partners (895 K)
for in-novation activities
during 2009-2013.
Application sent to
InMotion/VGR and
The emergence of a common design vision based on a diagnosis according to CAR
faced by the DART-group
Knowledge mobility managed by knowledge absorption, network identification and
inter-organizational socialization
The emergence of a rich picture depicting the problem situation viewed by Viktoria’s
ability to identify, assimilate, and exploit knowledge from the environment.
Absorbing relevant knowledge from the members and transfer this back to the
The use of the business language used by the DART-group
Improved socialization through workshops and interviews
Improved stability by improved confidence
Key Innovation Event 3 and 4:Toward additional funding - InMotion and Vinnova (fall-09)
Recruitment of InMotion/VGR as a sponsor
for the purpose of generating resources for
service innovation (441 K for 2010
Recruitment of Vinnova (after a declined
application) as a sponsor for research
purposes (615 K for 2010 2013)
Strengthened position of Viktoria as the hub
Stimulation of interaction and knowledge transfer by the use of
modeling techniques, business (local) language, and workshops.
Further network design and orchestration by the use of the joint
(established) design vision and approved applications
Expanded multiplexity by including a pre-study focusing mobile
services for ridesharing in the initiative
Expansion of the network’s capability in regard to sustainable
Key Innovation Event 5: Program kickoff (spring-10)
Strengthening of the information broker’s role
(earlier being recognized as a service provider)
Identification of actors, roles, and procedures
for a developer zone
Expansion of the outer circle by the association
of actors of national interest and interested
parties from other regions
Management of business opportunities recognized by the
information broker by the distributed equitably and knowledge
Management of agreements by Viktoria as the hub
organization by (re-)building trust and innovation
Pre-meeting with the DART-group in order to secure a
content-driven dialogue and also to secure that the language
(socialization) reflected practices
Key Research Event 1: Establishment of research agenda (spring-10)
Identification of four research topics (based on applications and empirical data); distributed development,
environmental sustainability, adaptive systems and innovation orchestration.
Key Innovation Event 6 and 7: The DevZone workshop and the ServiceProvider workshop (spring-10)
Temporary expansion of the network in
size and diversity to provide useful
experiences and motives for using a
Changed prioritization between the different work packages
Pre-meeting with network members prior the DevZone workshop
Facilitation of the knowledge mobility during the DevZone workshop
to reach consensus about the vision of a develop zone (as technical
Knowledge transfer between different
initiatives by co-utilization of funds
Further expansion of the outer circle
Establishment of a web site for ISET to
further strengthen the network position,
and to improve the reputation and
knowledge mobility within the network
infrastructure and as business case)
Information given to service providers of what goes on
Discussions and agreements of how to include new business partners
(led by Viktoria as the hub firm)
Initiation of the agreement related to intellectual property rights
(Re-)anchoring of that Viktoria acts as fund manager
Key Research Event 2: Research reflections and conceptualizations of first findings (spring-10)
Data analysis and reflections as well as production of the first research publications
Table 1. Key events in the establishment of ISET related to network design orchestration
performed by Viktoria Institute as hub firm
The effort described in table 1 established ISET as an innovation and research program with a viable
cluster of multiple stakeholders, funds, an appropriate structure, and a hub firm with a strong network
position. The program has both expanded and transformed resulting in ongoing research as well as
innovation; with tangible results for the practices involved in the network and the area of public
transport in Western Sweden as a whole. As figure 3 demonstrates, the effort up til 2010 should be
considered as the end of the establishment of the program. This augmented development is an effect of
the launch of the program on, first, local, and then on, regional level. The innovation as well as the
research efforts will as a consequence transform from perceived as possible to innovation in progress
and research published, shedding light on some of the research topics advocated in the fields of e.g.
sustainable innovation and Green IT/IS.
Figure 3: An account of the launch of ISET
5 Discussion
As pointed out in previously, researching the development of green IT/IS necessarily need to cope
with the environmental challenges that consumption of the earth’s assets mean. Research topics and
eco-goals provided by e.g. Watson et al (2008; 2010; 2011) and guidance of research methodology to
use gives good and important, but not complete directions, in how research that matters in the field of
sustainable innovation could be established. The position taken in this paper is that the success of
green IT/IS innovation needs to incorporate several dimensions of sustainability going beyond
environmental concerns. Such expansion is addressed within sustainable innovation (van Osch and
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Avital, 2010). The current theories on sustainable innovation do however not cover actions of network
design and orchestration. By building on the framework in Dhanaraj and Parkhe (2006) as guidance
for our conceptualization (and thereby our theoretical foundation) in combination with the key events
(and thereby our empirical foundation) depicted in table 1, hypotheses for guiding actions in network
design and orchestration have been identified (c.f. table 2).
Guiding actions
Network design implications
Orchestration process implications
Accessibility to data and services is
To heighten network status
To improve knowledge mobility
Multiple financial sources are
continuously approached based on
emerging findings
To secure and escalate network
To create affordances for managing
network funds
Production and visualization of
(prototypical) artefacts is prioritized
To inspire network members to
become engaged and take position
To create affordances for managing
network funds and innovation
Different dimensions of sustainability
(environmental, financial, and social)
are addressed in the project design and
To guide the network design
To ensure focus in the orchestration
A continuous knowledge flow between
demand and supply systems is
addressed in the project design and
To enable the identification of
relevant actors to be recruited to the
To ensure focus in the management of
knowledge mobility
Engagement in the network is secured
successively by making roles, positions
and stakes of the actor’s explicit
To manage network position,
structure, and membership
To create foundations for the hub firm to
orchestrate based on different actor’s
desires and possibilities
Preliminary research topics related to
researching actors are defined
To raise the probability of receiving
(some) network funds and enable
the identification of the stake of
researching actors
To establish prioritization for the use of
different networks funds as well as
identifying content in the management of
knowledge mobility
An approach for applied research
addressing the needs of the network is
established and anchored
To establish foundations for
recruiting researching actors
(knowledge developers)
To ensure scientific well founded
knowledge base in the management of
knowledge mobility
A joint design vision to be
continuously refined and evaluated is
establishment early
To inspire network members to
become engaged and take position
To create foundations for identifying
knowledge needs, managing network
stability and requirements for network
Incremental feedback informed by the
evaluation of the network innovation
output is enabled
To become informed on evolving
requirements on the network design
To become informed on evolving
requirements on the orchestration process
Table 2: Guiding actions as hypotheses for establishing sustainable innovation
The discovery of the guiding actions informs about new processes that are not discussed in the
framework by Dhanaraj and Parkhe (2006). As e.g., the recruitment of network funds is based on the
case of most importance when sustainable innovation should be performed. Sources for the network
funds could either be internal and thus by the actors participating in the network or external and then
by sponsors continuously becoming parts of the network.
Funds can be provided as cash or in-kind (efforts performed by members of the network acting on
behalf of the network). In addition, these funds must be managed which is the basis for the
orchestration process managing network funds which not either is discussed by Dhanaraj and Parkhe
(2006). Based on the analysis of the case figure 4 presents a refined framework for design and
orchestration necessary for sustainable innovation.
! " Sources"(internal/external)
! " Form"(inkind/cash)
! " Size
! " Diversity
! " Temporal"(temporary/
! " Density
! " Autonomy
! " Level"(inner/outer"circle)
! " Centrality
! " Status
Network(design Orchestration(process
Network"recuitment"processes Network"management"activities
Figure 4: A refined framework for network design and innovation orchestration
6 Conclusions and future research
Based on the establishment of ISET we conclude that research topics and research methodologies
which Watson et al (2008; 2010) and Melville et al (2010) advocate are essential components when
green IS/IT innovation is performed. These components create basic guidance when a common design
vision is formulated for initiatives of sustainable innovation, when applications for funding are
designed, and when research topics are framed and specified. However a wider lens during the
innovation is also needed taking in consideration the economic and social value which the green IS/IT
innovation should provide (c.f. van Osch and Avital 2010; Dao et al 2011).
In addition, guidance for establishing the program as an innovation network is needed transforming
the perceived ideas of innovation and research into reality and thus research and innovation in
progress. Our case shows that this is of particular importance when such initiatives are realized in the
context of public transportation as it contains many stakeholders with different perspectives and
agendas on different levels in society. Being successful in creating substantial effects of sustainable
green IS/IT solutions require the establishment of a viable innovation network with a variety of
stakeholders from different organizations with different interest and stakes. Our point of departure is
that it is necessary to engage many actors, on different levels, to make sure that (positive)
environmental effects are created enabled by addressing other dimensions of sustainability.
The case provides data that concludes that the hub firm, responsible for the design and preservation of
the network, was guided by the processes that is included in the framework for innovation
orchestration that Dhanaraj and Parkhe (2006) presents. The data however also shows guiding actions
in detail performed by the hub firm when network design and innovation orchestration has been
conducted. These actions have been formulated as hypotheses to be verified / falsified based on the
progress of the used sustainable innovation initiative and also based on data from other cases. It also
gives the base to propose a refined framework for network and orchestration, which in addition
includes processes for raising network funds and managing funds. It also highlights that outputs could
be used as means for network design and orchestration which is not stressed in the original model.
These means should be regarded as essential components in an iterative approach for network
As future research we have identified a need to further elaborate and conceptualize the actions and
processes identified in theory and practice. A second line of further research is also to enhance the
model and include constituents of research design and research management to complement the focus
on the role of knowledge in sustainable innovation. A third line of research is to follow the
development of ISET and longitudinally investigate how network design and orchestration is
performed during the whole lifecycle for a sustainable innovation program and thereby also study the
effects of the networks design and orchestration performed during the establishment of the initiative.
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... As such, the model presents insights into how network activities in digital innovation can be orchestrated. Furthermore, the proposed model is extending existing research concerning orchestration (Dhanaraj and Parkhe;Hjalmarsson and Lind, 2011;Levén et al., 2014) by elaborating on the interrelationship between network activities and the overall logic of the orchestration process. Therefore, the model is providing valuable insights into other fields of innovation as well where networked and ambiguous innovation processes take place. ...
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In recent years, the phenomena of open data have lent a promise to expand the innovation network of an organization. By allowing this type of access to organizational resources, developers beyond the organizational realm may hence generate new innovative artifacts surpassing existing capabilities. However, as an organization utilizes these innovation capabilities they simultaneously loose significant control over the innovations’ alignment with existing organizational goals. One way to nurture and harness this type of innovation is to arrange a contest where third party developers are invited to attend. Using a Design Science Research approach, such a contest - a type of artifact we coin Digital Innovation Contest - was designed and field-tested in 2011. The contest, WestCoast TravelHack 2011, summoned 76 developers distributed on 20 teams and was based on an idea to both generate novel digital service prototypes and having these applications promote the organizational goal of less energy-consuming ways of everyday travel. We conclude that by following our empirically grounded and theoretically informed guidelines, this type of contest can indeed increase the likelihood of both producing innovative artifacts and aligning these innovations with organizational goals.
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Although it is widely accepted to differentiate between economic, ecological, and social dimensions for sustainability, social concerns are often treated with secondary importance. In line with this, also authors from Information Systems (IS) tend, in addition to its economic obligations, to focus on the natural environment and rather neglect the social dimension or do not position their research as such. Against this backdrop, we (1) examine the status quo of IS research on social sustainability, (2) organize corresponding knowledge through a taxonomy, and (3) present specific IS-roles that foster social sustainability. Our findings help researchers and practitioners in classifying current initiatives, getting ideas for future opportunities, and moving towards an understanding of how to employ IS to achieve social goals. Moreover, this study poses a foundation for deriving relevant research questions and advanced IS-theories for social concerns. Overall, we hope to nudge discussions on this valuable pillar of sustainability.
This article develops an empirically grounded model of antecedents and effects of green information systems (IS) initiatives. The model is empirically based on an in-depth case of the Nordic financial institution. The authors' study examines the effect of several organizational factors, and characteristics of Green IS initiatives themselves on organizations' intention to adopt Green IS initiatives. Their study finds that employees' attitudes toward these initiatives affect their participation in the initiatives, as well as the success of Green IS initiatives. The adoption of the initiatives was seen to affect individual and organizational level outcomes, with positive experiences enabling employees to continue to use/ support the initiatives, and organizations also often realizing improvements in practice. Copyright © 2018, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.
While examining the field of innovation, a research gap was found concerning the need to examine the contextual factors affecting management of innovation and turnover intention (TI) in knowledge workers. Investigating a sample of Indian knowledge workers (n = 312) and applying multilevel modelling (MLM) using structural equation modelling, the current study found that the psychological contract and rewards and recognition were strong mediators between perceived supervisor support, innovation and TI. A better fit model emerged when examining four competing models using MLM. This research examines the theoretical and practical implications of the results.
Diverse applications of the concept of loose coupling are embodied in five recurring voices that focus separately on causation, typology, effects, compensations, and outcomes. Each has a tendency to drift away from a dialectical interpretation of loose coupling toward a unidimensional interpretation of loose coupling, thereby weakening the explanatory value of the concept. The authors first use the five voices to review the loose coupling literature and then to suggest more precise and more productive uses of the concept.
By combining cognitive systems engineering and transportation systems analysis, relevant elements of control and communication theories and human factors, a conceptual model and analytical framework for public (mass passenger) transportation are developed. Utilizing the means-end hierarchy of functional levels, the model describes five dynamic processes (the accessibility, travel, transport, traffic, and motion processes) in public transportation. The structural elements of the model and their characteristics are identified and discussed.
Innovation networks can often be viewed as loosely coupled systems of autonomous firms. We propose that hub firms orchestrate network activities to ensure the creation and extraction of value, without the benefit of hierarchical authority. Orchestration comprises knowledge mobility, innovation appropriability, and network stability. We reject the view of network members as inert entities that merely respond to inducements and constraints arising from their network ties, and we embrace the essential player-structure duality present in networks.
An analysis of four transportation systems (Vélib, Zipcar, ERP Singapore, and Transantiago) shows the strategic value of creating a symbiotic relationship between physical and informational systems in order to increase the convenience and patronage of these systems. The four information drives (ubiquity, uniqueness, unison, and universality) are extended to a physical setting and used to report the key characteristics of each system from both a physical and informational perspective. The article argues that the traditional customer orientation to determining systems requirements may fail to create the breakthrough systems designs that are required to reduce society’s climate harming emissions. Rather, we need an innovation orientation based on understanding consumers’ fundamental physical and informational needs.
Smartphones are both green technologies and an integral parts of green information systems that are beginning to make serious contributions toward a sustainable environment. We trace the rise of the smartphone, with particular attention given to the iPhone and its many applications. The fundamental differences between smartphone-based and more common Internet applications, and how these might enhance sustainable strategies for organizations with a green agenda are highlighted. U-Commerce is suggested as a theoretical framework that best explains this, and the four dimension of U-Commerce are employed to illustrate how innovative organizations are using the unique characteristics of smartphones to pursue environmentally sound strategies. A process that might be followed for indentifying applications for sustainable issues, making sure that the applications take advantages of a smartphone’s unique features, and that contribute to sustainability by using fewer resources, protecting resources, and improving our use of current resources. The paper concludes by identifying a research agenda for information systems scholars to pursue studying the use of smartphones in search of a sustainable information technology agenda.
The quality and future of human existence are directly related to the condition of our natural environment, but we are damaging the environment. Scientific evidence has mounted a compelling case that human behavior is responsible for deterioration in the Earth's natural environment, with the rate of deterioration predicted to increase in the future. Acknowledging this evidence, the governments of 192 countries have formally agreed to take action to resolve problems with the climate system, one of the most highly stressed parts of the natural environment. While the intention is clear, the question of how best to proceed is not. The research reported here undertook a three-phase approach of selecting, analyzing, and synthesizing relevant literature to develop a holistic, transdisciplinary, integrative framework for IT-enabled business transformation. The focus on business transformation is because business is recognized as being a critical contributor in realizing the challenges of environmental sustainability due to its potential capacity for innovation and change-locally, nationally, and globally. This article also serves as a resource base for researchers to begin to undertake significant information systems and multidisciplinary work toward the goal of environmental sustainability. Through selection and analysis of illustrative examples of current work from 12 academic disciplines across 6 core categories, the framework addresses the key issues of uncertainty: (1) What is meant by environmental sustainability? (2) What are its major challenges? (3) What is being done about these challenges? (4) What needs to be done?