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Transformative Business Studies: Technology Transfer in the Social Sciences

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In order to successfully transfer research results of business studies to practical application, there is a need to produce knowledge that has practical relevance and is transferrable to new contexts. This, naturally, creates requirements for the research process and methodology. In this paper, the methodology for conducting transformative business studies is presented, which is based on a combination of the design science research paradigm, participative research, and controversy mapping inspired by actor-network theory. The combination of these research methodologies and paradigms forms a methodological basis for producing transferrable research results that concern larger organizational and social change. It allows approaching ill-defined research problems through design thinking and systematically validating and verifying research results with practitioners in order to ensure the applicability of results in practice. To illustrate the methodology, we utilize an example of a method for designing business ecosystems that was developed in a collaboration between Åbo Akademi University and the research-based consultancy PBI Research Institute. This method was created during a series of projects devoted to the biogas-for-traffic business and concerned the development of enabling business ecosystems for innovations. Due to the way the knowledge was recorded, it was possible to transfer this knowledge to new contexts, such as logistics and energy business.
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... Consequently, it is imperative to transform organizations that (re)build the built environmentand thus addressing this topic is imperative for transformative business studies (Gustafsson and Tsvetkova, 2017). ...
... (e.g., Tsvetkova and Gustafsson, 2012;Adamides and Mouzakitis, 2009;Eriksson et al., 2019;Korhonen, 2004), which has a long tradition of researching workflow patterns, but it has remained rather isolated from other strands of ecosystem research (Tsujimoto et al., 2017). However, this conceptual understanding provides much potential for theorization on ecosystem microstructures; in particular, the work on bottlenecks (Baldwin, 2015) and governance (Eriksson et al., 2019;Provan and Kenis, 2008) and transformative business studies (Gustafsson and Tsvetkova, 2017) can provide an excellent basis for further ecosystem research. ...
Thesis
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Societies today have increasing economic, social, and environmental needs for their built environments. The performance of the built environment depends largely on urban development, with the role of digital technologies therein being a long-standing research topic. The extant literature, however, has focused less on the organizational capabilities, such as absorptive capacity, that are needed for new technology adoption and organizational change. The capabilities of real estate owners, who are key decision makers throughout the built environment life cycle, have also, surprisingly, been neglected. The purpose of this thesis is to increase the understanding of digitalization and sustainability in the built environment. To this end, this thesis presents the results of an empirical study of the capabilities of real estate owners, technology suppliers and industry associations in the context of a business ecosystem within the Swedish real estate sector. The findings show that real estate actors have developed new organizational capabilities related to digitalization and within collaborations inside the business ecosystem overall. For example, real estate owners have invested in R&D labs and business development functions that are atypical within the sector. These new capabilities may contribute to digitalization and sustainability within the built-environment sector more broadly. Nevertheless, many structural issues characteristic of a fragmented sector remain. Additionally, this thesis contributes to ecosystem theory and its methodology and to the built environment research methodology. The literature on the use of social network analysis methods in ecosystem and built environment research is reviewed, with the conclusion that social network analysis methods have great research potential despite being rarely used. Furthermore, formal concept analysis of ecosystem concepts is conducted, and a methodological framework for understanding ecosystems as multilevel structures that consist of flows between ecosystem actors and emergent system-level properties is presented. The introduction of new theories and methods in the built environment literature is important, as digitalization and sustainability transcend traditional organizational and technological boundaries.
... In clinical research, the researchers help companies diagnose and solve problems in the practice. Thus, the main aims of a clinical inquiry include solving a clinical problem and triggering organizational change [50,51]. The main mechanism for clinical research is solving business problems through a collaborative process between research and practice, and that process allows for good access to data and constant validation of research results with the practitioners [49]. ...
... The main mechanism for clinical research is solving business problems through a collaborative process between research and practice, and that process allows for good access to data and constant validation of research results with the practitioners [49]. The outcome of clinical research is not known beforehand, but rather, the collaboration between researchers and practitioners usually results in an interesting outcome [50]. ...
Article
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Sustainability involves multiple environmental, technical, social and economic factors, and such complex analysis requires systemic solutions. Delivery models are key to achieving system benefits and enhancing sustainable development in infrastructure investments. They define the phases of a project, incentive structures, risk sharing and the relationships among the actors in it. They are usually developed early in the project and determine the project dynamics and outcomes. We compared traditional delivery models with systemic ones. We identified and illustrated elements that differ between them through two cases. The contribution is an increased understanding of how systemic infrastructure delivery models can adapt to changes in their environment. We also found that sustainability is vastly under-researched in systemic infrastructure delivery, but that its potential to deliver benefits to PPP infrastructures is substantial.
... Upon completion of my study, other researchers in the management of local government should be able to build on my research in this discipline (Gustafsson & Tsvetkova, 2017). Research should be transferable and the data confirmable, which means the research should be able to withstand external scrutiny (Colepicolo, 2015). ...
Research
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Technical Report
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Thesis
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Current industrial organisation requires a transition to more sustainable modes of fulfilling society needs. There is a clear trend towards functional economy and dematerialisation, which calls for the switch from owning to delivering functionality. Still, energy and therefore fuels need to be produced in order to procure, for example, transportation services. Biofuels are able to overcome the problems of emissions and scarcity associated with fossil fuels if produced and utilised in a sustainable manner. In this thesis, the metaphor of industrial symbiosis, which implies material and energy cycling among industries, serves as an inspiration for a circular and distributed way of organising biofuel production. A biogas-for-traffic solution is utilised as an empirical case in this study. The key challenge of making such an industrial organisation economically sustainable is addressed by proposing replication and business model innovation strategies that allow creating a resilient business ecosystem around biofuel business.
Chapter
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Biogas production and its use as traffic fuel are discussed in this chapter as an example of a system eco-innovation that is struggling to become implemented in a focal municipality. The biogas producer and distributor as the owner of the “core technology” have the potential to become the integrator of a functioning ecosystem required for the innovation to succeed. The company’s business model, however, should be transformed to incorporate the radical and system nature of the eco-innovation as well as create a business solution that would make the technology profitable. The aim of this chapter is to demonstrate how an ecosystem integrator can develop a boundary-spanning business model that is capable of integrating the multitude of stakeholders into a working biogas-for-traffic solution, thereby achieving a system change. The chapter is based on the results of two research projects during which a sustainable local biogas-for-traffic solution and the business model of the ecosystem integrator were developed together with the major ecosystem stakeholders. The main principle of developing such a business model lies in considering business models of the relevant stakeholders and managing uncertainties pertinent to their integration into the biogas-for-traffic ecosystem.
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