The sustainability of the media industry is one of the issues that is of interest to Paavo Ritala, associate editor of R&D Management and Professor of Strategy & Innovation at the School of Business and Management, LUT University, Finland. The COVID-19 crisis has shown that information provider and ‘watch-dog’ are among the many roles that that media has.
We asked Paavo about his research interests and his current project #MediaContradictions, which is studying sustainable media business models and has been conducted in an unexpectedly volatile environment.
Q. Your original area of interest was in organizational transformation, how has this field developed?
PR. My research and teaching is related to organizational transformation and innovation. Recently I have been interested in how organizations undertake a digital transformation by applying new digital technologies to their processes, structures, and collaboration frameworks (such as digital platforms).
I have also recently studied sustainable business models and sustainability-related innovation in various industries and contexts which embraces inter-organization collaboration, networks and ecosystems.
These topics are nowadays often framed within two broad megatrends – digitalization and sustainable development. (Paavo discusses this in a further post Moonshots and Megatrends)
Q. If someone was new to your subject and wanted to know more – what would you suggest they read?
PR. On digitalization and digital transformation: There are a lot of good material out there. Among many great alternatives, I would recommend the book “Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future” by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson published in 2017.
On business sustainability and innovation: With few good colleagues, we recently edited a book labelled “Innovation for Sustainability: Business Transformations Towards a Better World” (published by Palgrave in 2019). That’s a nice starting point towards this direction.
Q. One of your recent projects is on sustainability in the media industry – a sector that has been badly hit by a fall in advertising revenues during the lockdown, how do you think this will impact the findings of your research?
PR. Well, COVID-19 impacts everything and everyone. The fall in advertising revenue is indeed international, and will accelerate the division between winners and losers in media industry.
Some media are also more dependent on advertising revenue than others. I expect to see quality media outlets benefiting from the situation in the longer term, as they have the chance to expand their readership on COVID-19 related content (which is very often made freely available to all readers, not only subscribers).
In general, this global situation is a great opportunity for media to demonstrate its best qualities – as an arena for information dissemination but also as facilitator of discourse and sense making.
The website of the project is https://mediacontradictions.com/ if you want to learn more. In this webpage, you can also find a blog post that I wrote about COVID-19 and media industry.
Q.From your perspective, what do you think are the hot topics in R&D Management?
PR. Here is are the first 5 topics that I can think of:
1. Sustainability-oriented innovation (both social and ecological aspects)
2. Innovation ecosystems and how individual firms can participate or orchestrate those
3. Digital platforms, interfaces, and architectures
4. The role of new technologies in innovation and R&D (IoT, artificial intelligence, blockchain, etc)
5. How firms can innovate under major crises (think COVID-19 and beyond)
Related posts: Moonshots and Megatrends