LNETN PhD projects


Competing for legitimation

ESR1 will explore how new industries and ventures compete and how this competition shapes their development. New ventures and industries are often subject to two different forms of competition – competition from existing incumbents in the market, and competition from other new entrants. This research will address both of these issues by considering how new industries and ventures compete against each other and how this competition shape existing and contribute to the emergence of new institutions and policies. New market entrants often utilise competitions (funding or esteem based) to legitimise their place in the market and bring in new customers, investment, contribute to the creation of new policies and institutions – the research will consider how new entrants use competitions, customers and investment accordingly as well as contribute to the creation of new and altering existing institutional contexts to confer and obtain legitimacy. Consistent within this will be an investigation of the different approaches taken by born globals in different creative industries to understand how legitimacy is conferred, obtained and even lost amongst new industries and ventures and emerging polity.

Supervisory team: Svante Andersson (HH, host), Romeo V. Turcan (AAU), Jukka Matikainen (NF)


International growth in life sciences: The influence of new institutions and policies on the emergence of new product concepts

ESR2 will examine how institutional contexts and policies are influenced by the emergence and internationalization of new products and services within life science industries. Life sciences (which broadly comprise the medical technology, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology subsectors) are typically considered as high-technology industries. However, fundamental differences distinguish life sciences industries from other high-technology industries. The difference is not only in heavy reliance on science-based knowledge, aiming to improve the quality of life, but also in being highly regulated, with specific funding regimes (such as in healthcare). Fast changing trends in life sciences global networks are linked to industry and consumer demand for continuously growing needs for better quality of life and better environment. These trends put pressure on institutional environment to respond to constantly changing needs and aspiration for better quality of life and environment. The project examines the interplay between existing institutional contexts and life sciences in emerging markets

Supervisory team: Svante Andersson (HH, host), Minna Pikkarainen (UOULU), Harald Castler (GET)


Legitimation process of new actors and new business-policy partnerships

ESR3 will study the process of legitimation of new business-policy and inter-governmental relationships in emerging sectors. Legitimation of new actors and new business-policy relationships in emerging sectors of the economy has received scant attention in academic research and policy debates. Understanding such new institutional partnerships and arrangements are critical not only for EU business going abroad, but also for EU policy makers when it comes for example to the implementation and sustainability of the Neighbourhood Policy, internationalization of EU firms, as well as promotion of EU values beyond. Central conjecture is that development institutions as well as policy makers that care about emergence of new actors and new business-policy relationships need to deploy legitimacy building initiatives alongside their existing capacity building programs to see meaningful outcomes.

Supervisory team: Natasha Evers (HH, host), Timo Koivumäki (UOULU), Jukka Matikainen (NF)


Fluid ethics and legitimation of newness

ESR4 will develop new conceptual frameworks for understanding fluid ethics. With the Oxford English Dictionary declaring ‘post-truth’ as the word-of-the-year for 2016, the world has entered a new period of fluid ethics. This project will explore three cases to understand how the new forms of emergent fluid ethics impact existing and contribute to the creation of new institutions in these settings: energy & environment, migration & work, and health & nutrition. ESR4 will lay the groundwork for new conceptual frameworks for understanding fluid ethics, which have become important to grasp the role of social media in shaping collective behaviour at all levels, institutional, competitive and individual. She will explore three fields: energy and environment, migration and work, and health and nutrition - to understand how fluid ethics influence existing institutions and contribute to the creation of new institutions. Ethics are crucial not only to our understanding of the relationship between social goals and wealth creation missions, but also of relationships between NGOs and for-profit ventures.

Supervisory team: Romeo V. Turcan (AAU, host), Jillian Gordon (GU), Chris Mould (SHAFT)

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21st Century energy and legitimation of new industries: Innovating for and legitimating the Bio-economy

ESR5 will explore barriers to change, the rapid pace of technological change and the organizational structures facing biotechnology in the energy industry. The emergence of new ways of creating and harnessing existing sources of energy has become an area of significant technological and business focus. The Bio-Economy in Europe is punctuated by a large number of high-technology start-ups taking advantage of university research, a growing policy interest, and the need to meet recycling targets across the EU. Energy has long been an area where new forms of technology and organizing have seen the creation (and demise) of a range of industries.  From fossil fuel mining through to harnessing renewables, the energy industry has been at the forefront of the technological frontier and societal needs and concerns. New biotechnology businesses in the energy sectors often face difficult gestation periods with embedded institutional and environmental factors acting as both a catalyst and barrier to change. New businesses in the energy sectors often face difficult gestation periods with embedded institutional and environmental factors acting as both a catalyst and barrier to change. Investigation of these barriers, the rapid pace of technological change and the organizational structures required to capably harness such changes is an area ripe therefore for further investigation

Supervisory team: Niall G MacKenzie (GU, host), Hillary Leonard (URI), Steven Hamill (EDGE)


Innovating for and legitimating fintech

ESR6 will explore how new technologies and business models in FinTech can help consumers who currently are unable or unwilling to access existing financial services. Fintech is a dynamic area of innovation and enterprise. New business models in the financial services sector, underpinned by emerging Industry 4.0 technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and cryptocurrency are being used to disintermediate a broad range of incumbent firms. A central claim of many fintech start-ups is that they are addressing ‘the unbanked’ that is, groups who are currently unable or unwilling to use traditional financial services products across the EU. Beyond the marketing hype, we examine if consumers are in fact being served in new ways, and if so, how challenger financial services companies are legitimising their new technologies with this difficult to access consumer group. Companies starting up in this arena are faced with significant barriers in terms of customer preferences and well-established patterns of behaviour. Nonetheless, there are a range of strategies, technologies and markets being developed which a thorough investigation of will yield undoubted benefits to the wider EU society in terms of raising awareness, economic impact and social value. The EU’s FinTech Action Plan identifies a number of key areas for focus that correspond closely to the focus of this proposed research topic. Consistent within this is the legitimation and creation of new technology, the regulatory environment in which this happens, and the development of connected ecosystems to support and sustain further innovation.

Supervisory team: Dominic Chalmers (GU, host), Minna Pikkarainen (UOULU), Stephen Ingledew (FinTech Scotland)


Enterprise and the Internet of Things: Legitimating new business models in the 21st Century

ESR7 will lay the groundwork for better understanding policy support to encourage and protect SMEs operating in IoT industry (IoT). IoT seeks to merge physical and virtual worlds creating 'smart environments' which require companies to work together in making technologies interoperable. This is consistent with an open innovation approach to business. SMEs typically shy away from such strategies due to the inherent risks in ‘giving away’ competitive advantages. Policy measures seeking to support co-operation and development in adjacent industries & technologies will be analysed. This internet based technology is high on the EU's political agenda. The EU has released a strategy document entitle Creating a Digital Single Market which this research focus will speak to and contribute to the debates on. Getting the IoT strategy for support right is of critical value to wider society as it will require a range of technologies to be integrated effectively for the IoT’s potential to be recognized fully.

Supervisory team: Jillian Gordon (GU, host), Svante Andersson (HH), Harald Castler (GET)


Smart energy: Challenges of newness

ESR8 will study smarter electricity distribution systems integrated with advanced ICT, regional markets and innovative business models. Meeting the EU’s climate change and energy goals for 2020 and beyond will require a significant transformation of the current electricity infrastructure. Strengthening and upgrading existing networks becomes of great importance to integrating the growing amount of renewable energy, enhancing grid reliability, and developing innovative business models for the EU’s internal energy market. To achieve these goals, it is not only necessary to connect new wires in the network, but to make the current system smarter by integrating Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), thus building the “smart grid”. However, major smart grid researches have been focusing on technical development, a new kind of energy ecosystem and business models are envisioned to enable smart grids to realize its full potential. One primary focus of the project is to study the suitable business models for smart energy grids enabled by next generation communication technologies (e.g. 5G), which will facilitate the participation of consumers and prosumers in a so-called “energy marketplace”, ensuring the optimum integration of distributed renewable energy resources within the network while maintaining second-to-second power balance, power quality and security of the supply. The research has also focused on technological, commercial, regulatory and social frameworks to enable P2P approach, thus further liberalising EU’s energy market, contributing to EU’s 2020 climate and energy targets and beyond.

Supervisory team: Petri Ahokangas (UOULU, host), Natasha Evers (HH), Seppo Yrjola (NOKIA)


Styles of representation of newness and change in creative industries

ESR9 will explore the efficacy and consequence of extant and potential methods of representation of innovation and change. This research theme examines the disciplinary methods and historical contexts of various approaches and styles of representation of newness – pictorial, mathematical, narrative, etc. Doctoral research will review generic approaches and issues in this topic and then focus on a particular in an area of policy, technology, business or society where the implementation of an innovative idea or innovative practice is relevant. Organisations in particular sectors such as design, architecture, and creative industries will be selected for detailed study of their representational practices by which this type of practice or idea is conceptualised and communicated beyond the field of the expertise. Put simply, this project will identify and evaluate how the new methods and practices are explained and communicated. The doctoral level of contribution will develop the theoretical role and consequences of representational practices on the legitimisation process for new initiatives and innovations. ESR9 will demonstrate the efficacy and consequence of extant and potential methods of representation of innovation and change. EU Value: understanding of role of representation in barriers to change; addressing issues of change management, advice on business organisational transformation.

Supervisory team: Jonas Gabrielsson (HH, host), Dmitrij Slepniov (AAU), Henrik Lundum (NOVI)


Moving beyond technology frontiers

ESR10 will explore the role and nature of key future frontiers that new initiatives and changes have to overcome. This research theme examines the role and nature of key future frontiers, such as 5G/6G or artificial intelligence, which new initiatives have to overcome. By definition all new initiatives and changes move beyond current frontiers to a greater or lesser extent. Incrementally or radically they move things beyond the current position of the organisation, institution, practice, service, process or other phenomenon. ESR10 will study a specific future boundary topic associated with a key technology which future initiatives will have to transcend. This could be a social or financial or organisational or work practice boundary, e.g., to achieve adoption and legitimisation new innovations in virtual technology will involve  moving  beyond current frontiers of organisational practice, consumer experience, service delivery processes and social networking. The study will contribute to technology change and technology forecasting and its social impacts communicated through academic publications and conferences; greater understanding how existing boundaries create barriers to change and the identification of future frontiers to innovation and change; development of recommendations on social, business and policy implications.

Supervisory team: Petri Ahokangas (UOULU, host), Jillian Gordon (GU), Seppo Yrjola (NOKIA)


Analysis of  change narratives and diffusion

ESR11 will explore how newness and change could be viewed as different ways of speaking, writing and story-telling, contributing to innovation diffusion theory communicated through academic publications and events. This theme draws on work from the social sciences to analyse discourse and ways of speaking, writing and story-telling. This field has developed a large and coherent set of ideas, theories and concepts which can be used to analyse, interpret and critique all kinds of social phenomena. Specific case studies of newness and change will be selected and studied for the different ways of speaking, writing and story-telling which they stimulate and generate. By analysing newness and change as a series of interrelated and intertwined narratives, discourses and texts, ESR11 will open up the possibility of understanding new  ideas and theories more fully and how this can affect their adoption and diffusion.

Supervisory team: Romeo V. Turcan (AAU, host), Nikhilesh Dholakia (URI), Norman M. Fraser (SOFT)


Developing 21st century platform business models: Human-centred approach to personal data management

ESR12 will examine the ways personal data management can support the development of novel 21st century platform based business models. Today, platform business models are mostly based on the utilisation of personal data that is collected about people using the service. Companies are now facing challenges creating new mechanisms for value creation and value capture in the ever-changing business environment: creating more value to the individuals and the economy as well as comply with the new tightening data protection regulations in Europe. There is a need for a shift from organisation-centred activities towards human-centred personal data management and giving the control over personal data to the individuals. ESR12 will study how human-centred personal data management can enable new type of data availability and opportunities for companies in creating new business models in dynamic ecosystems and bring individuals with more transparency on how their personal data is processed. The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) calls for a human-centered approach to personal data management, thus giving citizens back control over of their personal data. The data protection reform is a key enabler of creating the Digital Single Market and allows the European citizens and businesses to fully benefit from the opportunities of the digital economy. ESR12 will increase understanding about how personal data management can support the development of platform business models, as well as results with recommendations for organisational and business development.

Supervisory team: Timo Koivumäki (UOULU, host), Dominic Chalmers (GU), Jari Partanen (BITT)


Dawn of the human-centric personal data market

ESR13 will study emergence, practices, dynamics, and business models of the new market in the context of new market of human-centric personal data. Human-centric personal data and the emerging business ecosystems around it have gained increasing interest among scholars and practitioners. The changing customer needs and technology together with new regulations are a disruptive force on many, if not most, industries. The upcoming EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the opportunity of using an individual’s personal data to offer more personalized and participatory services has stemmed a need for understanding what the premise is for a successful creation of such services. Profound disruption can be seen especially for healthcare, wellness, and finance businesses. Currently, most of the new innovative companies in this new market are not EU-based. Thus, for EU to maintain its competitiveness, thorough research is required to understand traditional and new, modern institutions, opportunities, barriers, practices, and business models that can be identified the emerging ecosystems. The objective of this study is to explore this emerging market from the service providers’ point of view. The dissertation will have implications for companies, scholars, and practitioners that seek to understand the prerequisites, opportunities, barriers, and responsibilities for creating personal data based services, and for the individual consumers who will be using them. The results can help companies and other organizations to better orchestrate the knowledge, innovation and business ecosystems that operate in the emerging market. The key EU value of this research is contribution to the business knowledge on internet-based technology, which is emphasized on EU’s political agenda, as evidenced by the EU strategy document Creating a Digital Single Market.

Supervisory team: Minna Pikkarainen (UOULU, host), Niall G MacKenzie (GU), Jari Partanen (BITT)


Brexit, new Europe and newness Chasm: Cross-channel conceptualization of newness and tradition

ESR14 will explore sharply divergent concepts of forward-newness-vs-backward-tradition that emerged during and after the Brexit campaign, which have major long term international, constitutional, economic, political and social ramifications relevant to the EU as a whole and to individual member states. The lead up to and the aftermath of Brexit indicate a deep and wide chasm of what is perceived as new, innovative (and why); and what is seen as old, traditional (and why); on the two sides of the English Channel. European integration is seen as progressive, new, innovative and futuristic in most of continental Europe; and by anti-Brexit forces in the UK. The same integration project is seen as old, ossified and innovation-stifling bureaucratic straitjacket by pro-Brexit forces in UK and in minority similar segments of continental Europe. Using some historical analysis and extensive interviewing, this theme will explore the nature of this cross-channel chasm of newness, how it arose and how it is likely to evolve and affect organisations in the UK and the EU. EU Value: understanding how to speed up and support innovation in post-Brexit era; understanding how to rejuvenate EU institutions and make them more agile in post-Brexit era.

Supervisory team: Romeo V. Turcan (AAU, host), Hillary Leonard (URI), Chris Mould (SHAFT)


Disrupting the Disrupters: Strategies of successful innovative survival in traditional industries

ESR15 will explore how innovation is supported in traditional industrial contexts, in ways that effectively counter disrupters. A key economic concept of the early 21st century is the emergence of rapid-rising start-up companies (often labelled as ‘unicorns’) that are disrupting traditional industries and practices of all manner: transportation, hospitality, finance, education and more. While many traditional companies and industries are in decline because of disruptive attacks, select few are innovating within traditional contexts. Via such innovation, they are not only surviving but even thriving. ESR15 will explore the innovation processes and strategies of successful traditional ‘disrupting-the-disrupter’ organisations. ESR15 will explore how innovation is not only rekindled but is supported strongly in traditional industrial contexts, in ways that effectively counter disrupters. EU Value: Identification and validation of practices and strategies that Europe’s centuries-old traditional organisations – corporate as well as non-profit – can employ to counter disruptive forces from inside as well as outside Europe. Advancement of knowledge about resilience.

Supervisory team: Dmitrij Slepniov (AAU), Ruby Roy Dholakia (URI), Stephen Ingledew (FTS)

TBRP PhD Projects

Laurie Prange-Martin

The Process of Creation and Legitimation of New Industries in Remote Regions: The case of Yukon

Laurie is exploring in her thesis how new industries are created and legitimated in remote regions. Within the scope of this research project, there are two dimensions for comparison. Firstly, Laurie explores how different, more mature industries have developed in Yukon and how this compares to the ICT sector in Yukon. Secondly, Laurie explores how ICT sectors in other, similar remote regions: Northern Denmark, Northern Scotland and Northern Finland have been created, legitimated, and institutionalized in the world and how they compare to the creation and legitimation of the Yukon ICT sector. Laurie is registered as doctoral researcher at Aalborg University, Denmark.

Supervised by: Romeo V. Turcan and Norman M. Fraser

Demet Schaefler

A study of Authentic Leadership in Organizations: A Case of Public Hospitals in Switzerland

Demet's interest in the phenomenon of authentic leadership is driven by a number of questions she aims to pursue in her thesis: What are the major concerns and challenges in becoming authentic leader and leading? How is authentic leader and authentic leadership formed between the poles of high specialized professionals, shortage of resources and political guidelines? How various organization sub-systems - in the case of hospitals - doctors, administration and nurses perceive, understand, accept or reject authentic leadership? Demet is registered as doctoral researcher at University of Gloucestershire, UK.

Supervised by: Romeo V. Turcan and Aftab Dean