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Tag: Entrepreneurship

Foreign Policy

A brief interview I gave to Diplomatic Courier as a chosen Top 99 under 33 Foreign Policy Leader:

// Describe the impact on foreign policy you have made in your current/past positions.

Through talks, writings and diplcourierconsulting on topics such as innovation, (social) entrepreneurship, and strategy, I hope I have provided tools to tackle and reconceptualize global societal problems towards value-based (foreign) policies. Most recently, I have co-edited a book in German called 7 Virtues Reloaded. Members of the Think Tank 30 of the Club of Rome have applied wisdom, moderation, courage, justice, hope, faith, and love to current societal topics such as the educational system, data abuse, energy sustainability, or social and cultural struggles of meaning. We reflect on the present to change the world of tomorrow with virtues from the past.

// What personal contribution to foreign policy are you most proud of?

Transferring knowledge and creating linkages across borders and boundaries. I have co-founded the social incubator Zahnräder Network based on my research on academic entrepreneurship in the UK, and then applied it to the German Muslim context. Zahnräder encourages and enables social entrepreneurship, has been supported, for example, by the British Council, Youth for Europe, and Ashoka Changemakers, and won the Social Entrepreneurship Academy Public Choice Award in 2012.

// What is your vision of foreign policy in the 21st Century?

I think our understanding of both terms–“foreign” and “policy” will change due to much more fluid boundaries, which are leading to a complex web of engaged stakeholders. Foreign policy in the 21st century must be value-driven, concentrating on solving societal problems rather than focusing on narrow national interests.

// What challenges need to be overcome to create better foreign policy? What leadership traits are needed for this?

Two challenges–and magnificent opportunities at the same time–are the incorporation of diverse actors and the employment of new technologies to facilitate manifold cross-border engagement. As geographical and policy borders become blurred, FP leaders need more diverse professional backgrounds to succeed in their complex and diverse new roles.

My reaction on the Saïd Business School website: “I feel very honoured to have been selected and hope that my research and work contributes to sustainable social change. Oxford, and Saïd Business School in particular provide a magnificent ecosystem in which to generate ideas that shape society.”

Productive Innovation

Blogpost first published at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship Website.

// Making science useful
Academia is far too oftenswf removed from practice. Thousands of books and articles are written about innovation and practitioners feel inclined to ask: so what? Johanna Mair, Professor of Organization, Management and Leadership at the Hertie School of Governance and Academic Editor of the Stanford Social Innovation Review and Christian Seelos, a visiting scholar at the Stanford University Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society who previously directed the IESE Platform for Strategy and Sustainability, feel and understand this frustration. In a session on the balancing act of innovation and scale at the Skoll World Forum they engage with the audience as a step towards bridging these diverging worlds: by intervening more productively in the world in a scholarly way.

// From innovation as an ideology to innovation as a process
Much scholarly attention concentrates on the creation of social ventures neglecting established organizations and the question of how to innovate continuously. Mair and Seelos stress that innovation needs to be seen as a process, not an ideology: “Innovation is not the holy grail.” We often overrate the value of innovation, undervalue the importance of failed innovation and underappreciate the difficulty of innovation. Innovation is a complex process and a long and continuous development from idea over evaluation to experimentation. Along the way organizations face many pitfalls. Ideas often never get started; or end too early. Reasons are, for example, a strong target focus, power struggles, fearing punishment and potential failures, a homogenous workforce and too much distance of managers from the frontline.

// Productive innovation
Andrew, a Skoll World Forum attendee, comments: “The ideas are there, but opportunities are not.” Many heads nod. The remark hits one of the core problems that Mair and Seelos convey: Organisations need innovation routines and processes. Ideas are normally not enacted by individuals. They require groups and both formal and informal engagement. Innovation consists of idea generation, evaluation, experimentation and enactment. Within this difficult and complex process, organisations should artistically balance innovation and scale by exploiting past and targeting future innovations given the availability of resources – in a process of productive innovation.

Academic Entrepreneurship

Presented a paper co-authored with Thomas Bohné at this year’s Academy of Management Conference in Boston.

// The Interaction between Academic Entrepreneurs & Potential Academic Entrepreneurs

„In this article, we explore the interaction between academic entrepreneurs (AEs) and potential academic entrepreneurs (PAEs) within academia. We focus on why and how these two groups interact and investigate intra-organizational facilitators and barriers of this interaction. The findings from our case study of the University of Oxford show that AEs are providing PAEs with encouragement and credibility and access to an entrepreneurial network. However, we also find resentment of entrepreneurship within academia and that distrust among academics complicate interactions, as academics are less open about their entrepreneurial interests and activities. In addition, we find that the technology transfer office (TTO) is both enabling and disabling the interaction. The TTO is perceived by PAEs and AEs as supportive of entrepreneurship, but also as having only limited knowledge and often being subject to a conflict of interest.“

 

A few thoughts on Twitter

I have been on twitter for two months and a few days. Who would have thought that constraining people exchanging thoughts to 140 characters would become such a successful business model? Twitter was founded less than six years ago. And what comes next? Up to 14 seconds‘ videos or 140 pixel pictures?

// information, knowledge, wisdom

In a time of increasing information where knowledge competes with information, we need mechanisms to strive for knowledge and wisdom. Or to speak with Eliot: „Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?“ Twitter constraints the number of characters but neither the number of posts nor the number of people we follow –  nor, of course, the time spent on Twitter. We may still end up in a net of over-information. Yes, tweeted information is now edited and concise, but it often becomes merely subdivided and two tweets substitute one other message somewhere hidden amongst other tweets.

// being an architect. 

What is fascinating is that we became to some extent the architect of our own information channels. We choose who to follow. This brings some freedom of information as well as flexibility to create our own information. Each of us has his customized newspaper and news channel. The media, the fourth power, in the hand of the people? Not quite, yet social media is powerful.

This new power brings responsibility which a society needs to reflect upon on a macro level: Are we well equipped to be the engineers of our own information streams? How do we educate ourselves to be prepared for the challenge to act as our own architects and the architects of our own surroundings? And what do these information structures make of us? Who creates these structures? And why?

// the strange

On a micro level, we need to constantly review our own thoughts as well as the structures we create around ourselves which shape these thoughts. We should look out for the non-obvious, the strange. So my advice: follow the strange from time to time, be shocked by what is out there outside our own comfort zone, in order to reflect on this comfortable turf we create around ourselves and in which explanation appears sometimes so simple. Let’s shake up our information syllabus and break out of  our very own information channels.

Social Incubator for Social Entrepreneurship

// New core team

This month the new core team, a fascinating group of people from various socio-cultural, regional and academic backgrounds, will continue what its predecessor has started. Zahnräder is almost two years old and over sixty people actively engage in the network’s organisation in various working and functional groups. Its mission can be conceptualized as a social incubator providing human, social, financial and cultural capital to social entrepreneurs. It is an enabling and encouraging platform acting as an uncle-doctor (or aunt) substitution system. More here.

// Energy -> movement -> social innovation

Zahnräder transforms individual energy into collective movement. Together, the Räder – wheels or gears – create change in and for society. The Zahnräder Network attempts to encourage as well as enable efficient and effective interaction by equipping its participants with knowledge to fish rather than the fish itself. And it provides a place – on- and offline – for structured interaction to contribute to a socially sustainable, innovative and multifaceted society.

Zahnräder Network

// Goals

Zahnräder is an organization from Muslims for society. It is an enabling and encouraging platform which provides human, social and financial capital as well as motivation and credibility. The idea is to facilitate, to teach how to fish, not to give fish. Knowledge of all types is transferred – from tacit to explicit, individual to social, declarative, procedural, causal, conditional, relational to pragmatic knowledge. Similarly networks are built and a tertius iungens orientation (Obstfeld, 2005) of trying to connect people from your network with each other encouraged.

I generally ask people when they meet another person to think about two things:

  1. How can I help this person?
  2. How can this person help people in my network?

This is a mentality shift of always attempting to help everyone around you which I experienced in Oxford from so many of my colleagues. It is a wonderful and helpful way of approaching others. And it benefits Zahnräder, too.

Ability Usability
Internal Human Capital Cultural Capital, Motivation
External Social Capital Financial Capital, Credibility

Zahnräder transforms individual energy into collective movement. Together, the Räder – wheels or gears – create change in and for society. We are functioning thereby as a complement, not a substitute to existing organizations – enabling & encouraging changemakers.

// Structure

Currently, over 60 people are involved in the organization of Zahnräder. Communication is primarily online via skype, basecamp and email. We are organized in a matrix-like organization with functional groups on the horizontal and working groups on the vertical axis. Functional groups are inter alia finance, communication and IT. Working groups are the conference team and ZahnräderX local teams.

// The national conference

The national conference is currently the heart of Zahnräder. Over 100 participants come together – all of them as producers and no one just as a consumer. It is all about sharing: sharing knowledge, sharing your network, sharing what drives you, your goals, your ambitions, your vision. Participants speak about their projects, receive feedback, knowledge. Some join projects they encounter some recommend it to their friends.

// Quo vadis?

We managed to shift from a starting phase to a growth phase. We intend to have over 120 Zahnräder involved in the organization primarily by extending our functional and working groups. The idea is to be sustainable internally and provide sustainable services externally. From October onwards, we are aiming to have a Human Resource and from December onwards an Internal Communication functional group. Also, we plan to establish a Zahnräder think tank.

socio-academic entrepreneurship. the term.

I was asked a couple of times where I got this term from: “socio-academic entrepreneurship” or “socio-academic entrepreneur”. Well, I coined in when researching the interaction of academic entrepreneurs and potential academic entrepreneurs at the University of Oxford. Somehow, I felt that research does not just – or primarily – follow Mertonian norms. And some academics specifically seemed to focus on socio-academic teaching, researching and “entrepreneuring”. This does not mean that they neglected fundamental research (and I strongly believe in the value of fundamental research, too).

I felt, that both ability and motivation were and are often embedded in a new symbiotic nature. Rather than a social entrepreneur trained in academic knowledge or an academic entrepreneur commercializing research through a technology transfer with some social attributes, the socio-academic entrepreneur employs consciously academic research to become a social entrepreneur.

// A symbiotic creation

Academic knowledge hereby does not just enable, and the social motivation does not just encourage; the symbiotic creation leads to a shift in the academic and social practice itself. Rather than acting with Mertonian disinterest socio-academic entrepreneurs act with specific social interests utilizing entrepreneurial means. They form a symbiotic creation and are not a substitute but an enriching compliment in today’s and tomorrow’s world.

// Ambidextrous innovators

Academic knowledge does not just enable, and the social motivation does not just encourage; the symbiotic creation leads to a shift in the academic and social practice itself. Socio-academic entrepreneurs will have to be ambidextrous. They will not only be changemakers but equally conscious preservers. They will have to balance themselves internally and balance themselves externally with respect to the academic community. This is the destiny innovators suffer.

socio-academic entrepreneurship (VII/VII)

Links to the other parts of this series of blogposts on socio-academic entrepreneurship:
Entrepreneurs – Agents of Change: Summary I/VII
Introduction II/VII
Academic Entrepreneurs III/VII
Social Entrepreneurs IV/VII
Socio-Academic Entrepreneurs V/VII
Conclusion VI/VII
Bibliography VII/VII

This bibliography completes the series of blogposts in July.

// Bibliography

Altbach, P. G., Reisberg, L. & Rumbley, L. E. (2009) Trends in Global Higher Education: Tracking an Academic Revolution. A Report Prepared for the UNESCO 2009 World Conference on Higher Education. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Clark, B.R. (1998) Creating Entrepreneurial Universities: Organizational Pathways of Transformation. Pergamon: Oxford.

Etzkowitz, H. (1983) Entrepreneurial Scientists and Entrepreneurial Universities in American Academic Science, Minerva 21: 2-3, pp. 198-233.

Etzkowitz, H. (2003) Research groups as ‘quasi firms’: the invention of the entrepreneurial university, Research policy, 32: 1, pp. 109-121.

Etzkowitz, H.  & Leydesdorff, L. (2000) The dynamics of innovation: from National Systems and ‘‘Mode 2’’ to a Triple Helix of university- industry–government relations, Research Policy 29:2, pp. 109-123.

Freeman, C. (1991) Networks of Innovators: A Synthesis of Research Issues, Research policy, 20:4, pp. 499-514.

Gartner,W.B., 1988. ‘‘Who is an entrepreneur?’’ is the wrong question, American Journal of Small Business, 12:1, pp. 11-32.

Granovetter, M. (1973) The Strength of Weak Ties, American Journal of Sociology, 78:6, pp. 1360-1380.

Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1993) Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Isis Innovation. http://www.isis-innovation.com

Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship. http://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/centres/skoll/about/Pages/whatisse.aspx

Merton, R. K. (1942) The Normative Structure of Science. In Storer, N. (Ed.) The sociology of science: Theoretical and empirical investigations, pp. 267–278. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Nichols, A. (2006) Social Entrepreneurship: New Models of Sustainable Change, Oxford: OUP.

Nicolaou, N., & Birley, S. (2003). Academic networks in a trichotomous categorisation of university spinouts, Journal of Business Venturing, 18:3, pp. 333–359.

O’Shea, R. P., Chugh, H. & Allen, T. J. (2008) Determinants and consequences of university spinoff activity: a conceptual framework, Journal of Technology Transfer, 33:6, pp. 653-666.

Porter, M. E. (1990) The Competitive Advantage of Nations. New York: Free Press.

Scholte, J. A. (2005) Globalization: a critical introduction. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Tushman, M. & O’Reilly, C. (2004) Winning Through Innovation: A Practical Guide to Leading Organizational Change and Renewal, Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business School Press.

Wenger, E. & Snyder, W. (2000) Communities of practice: the organizational frontier, Harvard Business Review, 78:1, pp. 139-145

Woolgar, Steve (1988) Science: the very idea, London: Routledge.

socio-academic entrepreneurship (VI/VII)

// Conclusion

Academic entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs have already existed for a long time, yet within the last decades we have witnessed an increase in numbers and impact as well as an enhanced research focus and discourse on these phenomena.

Equally, many academics already act with a social purpose and social entrepreneurs employ academic knowledge. These blogposts have argued that a next wave of new entrepreneurs is and increasingly will be what we have entitled socio-academic entrepreneurs.

They form a symbiotic creation rather than merely a sum of academic and social entrepreneurial characteristics and are not a substitute but rather an enriching compliment in today’s and tomorrow’s world. Which way ought we to go from here? The cat in the pre-blog post is right: It depends a good deal on where we want to get to.

Edit – links to further parts on socio-academic entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurs – Agents of Change: Summary I/VII
Introduction II/VII
Academic Entrepreneurs III/VII
Social Entrepreneurs IV/VII
Socio-Academic Entrepreneurs V/VII
Conclusion VI/VII
Bibliography VII/VII

socio-academic entrepreneurship (V/VII)

// Socio-Academic Entrepreneurs

Socio-academic entrepreneurs are not social entrepreneurs who use academic knowledge. Academic knowledge is more than just enabling socially motivated entrepreneurs. They are also not academic entrepreneurs who are encouraged by social motivation. Socio-academic entrepreneurs are hence neither only based on an academic ability linked to a social motivation, nor are they only built on social motivation which is channeled through academic knowledge. Both ability and motivation are embedded in a new symbiotic nature.

Rather than a social entrepreneur trained in academic knowledge or an academic entrepreneur commercializing research through a technology transfer with some social attributes, the socio-academic entrepreneur employs consciously academic research to become a social entrepreneur. Academic knowledge does not just enable, and the social motivation does not just encourage; the symbiotic creation leads to a shift in the academic and social practice itself.

As many scholars (inter alia Woolgar, 1988) emphasized science and technology are not neutral entities following Mertonian (1942) norms of universalism, communism, disinterestedness and organized skepticism. Socio-academic entrepreneurs may move science and more generally research and more generally knowledge and more generally conduct in the social direction. Rather than acting as if disinterested, which research in general is not, socio-academic entrepreneurs act with specific social interests and using entrepreneurial means. Socio-academic entrepreneurs will work alongside other academics.

They will be criticized for doing improper research. Others will be grateful that a part of academia moves into a specific, socially defined, direction, which many academics have done before, as well as employing it entrepreneurially, which in this symbiosis only few have done. Importantly, socio-academic entrepreneurs will have to define this direction and criteria for socio-academic research. Disinterestedness, albeit not true, appears to be universally, i.e. commonly, accepted. Social, in its normative character, may not gain the same universality in its outlook, yet possibly universality as a basic intent.

Research may move along various basic foundations, i.e. for example on a research stream based on social interestedness and the other on (attempted) disinterestedness. Finally, this socially encouraged academic research leads to entrepreneurial endeavours, it does not wait for but creates opportunities for change. Whereas many academics are researchers, teachers, consultants and a few entrepreneurs, some will become socio-academic entrepreneurs after and alongside being an academic.

In Winning through Innovation, Tushman and O’Reilly (2004) assert that organizations need to balance continuity and change – so called ambidextrous organizations which celebrate simultaneously stability and incremental change on the one hand and discontinuous change on the other hand. Socio-academic entrepreneurs have to be ambidextrous, too. They will not only be changemakers but equally conscious preservers. They will have to balance themselves internally and balance themselves with respect to the academic community externally. They may form a group, possibly what could be referred to as networks (cf. e.g. Granovetter, 1973 and Freeman, 1991), and communities of practice (CoP, cf. Lave, & Wenger, 1993 or Wenger & Snyder, 2000) building clusters (cf. Porter, 1990) with the wider community.

What is so special about socio-academic entrepreneurs? It is not that they employ their research socially nor that they do research keeping a social conscious – both is already done. Rather the social in academia becomes an end and entrepreneurship a means leading to socio-academic entrepreneurs as agents of change. They will have to keep a fine balance between the social and the political and whilst they will increase in scale, they will not form a majority – neither in the academic nor in the entrepreneurial community. Yet, socio-academic entrepreneurs will form a potent synergy of knowledge and motivation leading to creative (academic and social) entrepreneurial construction.

Edit – links to further parts on socio-academic entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurs – Agents of Change: Summary I/VII
Introduction II/VII
Academic Entrepreneurs III/VII
Social Entrepreneurs IV/VII
Socio-Academic Entrepreneurs V/VII
Conclusion VI/VII
Bibliography VII/VII