Convergence between technologies and approaches stimulates innovation but understanding the multiple interactions can be problematic. Kevin Reuther of West Saxon University is co-chairing a track at the 2020 R&D Management Conference on this topic; here he discusses the need for a systems approach to research.
What do you think are the most disruptive influences impacting developments in your track?
As we live in a world that is becoming more and more complex, globally interconnected and digitally transformed, finding a balance between studying narrow subjects in-depth and acknowledging important relationships between the wider influence factors on a phenomena or system becomes more and more important, but is also increasingly difficult.
In Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research, valuable insights are often gained on a number of single influence factors but do not recognize their potential impact on others that might interrelate with innovation or entrepreneurial processes and outcomes. This indicates that novel approaches may be required to acknowledge such complexity.
Can you describe some recent findings in this area that are of interest to you personally?
Two recent research projects that are planned to be introduced at the session showcase different system theoretical approaches to improve our understanding of innovation and entrepreneurship processes.
- Adapted systemic sensitivity analysis was applied to develop a system model that provides an overview of interconnected influence factors on corporate innovation processes and to derive how organizational structures jointly with other factors can impact successful innovation in the German High-Tech Sector.
- The entrepreneurial lifecycle is approached as an entrepreneurship activity system and researches what impacts business model innovation on the basis of approximately 13.000 real entrepreneurial projects.
If someone was new to this topic what would you suggest they read to get a quick overview of the issues?
The track targets researchers in the innovation and entrepreneurship field who either do use systems theory-based approaches or are interested in applying them in their work in the future.
So, as an introduction to the wide area of systems theory, my personal recommendations to start reading would be
- Niklas Luhmann’s ‘Introduction to Systems Theory’ that is based on the transcripts of a series of lectures he gave.
- Lars Skyttner’s ‘General Systems Theory: Problems, Perspectives, Practice’
- John Minger’s ‘Systems Thinking, Critical Realism and Philosophy’ that I found particularly interesting from an epistemological and ontological perspective.
Moreover, a good example of applying systems theory in the entrepreneurship field is the paper “Business Model Design: An Activity System Perspective” by Zott & Amit (2010)
Systems Theory Approaches for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research: Gaining novel insight into factors that influence innovation processes and outcomes is one of the tracks at the 2020 R&D Management Conference being held at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, from 27 June-1 July – see more information here.
Dr. Kevin Reuther, Deputy Professor at the West Saxon University of Zwickau, Germany. Visit his Twitter profile here.
Mr Yngve Dahle, Serial Entrepreneur and founder of Entreprenerdy AS in Bergen, Norway