Innovative beginning for CBS’ new Roundtable concept

What do you get out of pairing 16 seasoned practitioners – managers from relevant functions in different industries – with 16 CBS researchers within a given field of research and asking them to discuss a relevant topic for a few hours? CBS harvested its first experiences with this on Tuesday, 21 March when the first, exclusive CBS Roundtable concept was launched.


CBS’ most recent business-oriented initiative, CBS Roundtable, is a ‘by invitation only’ event aimed at strengthening existing and creating new relations between CBS’ researchers and the business community. The concept seeks to gather leaders from the business community and researchers from CBS for a few hours to let them discuss a topical theme for the businesses – getting practitioners and researchers together.

The first Roundtable in March was attended by 16 representatives from C20 companies in different industries – production, pharma, service, and logistics, all leaders working within areas such as strategy, business development, R&D, and innovation. They discussed relevant and current challenges with innovation in their companies with 16 selected CBS researchers from different departments who, all engaged with the topic in their research.

Roundtable is planned as a relevant and interactive event where both the practitioners’ and researchers’ experiences and expertise come into play – not simply to address the selected topic but also to test ideas and enhance knowledge sharing among some of CBS’ most important stakeholders.

‘Innovation and intrapreneurship in a rule centric world’

The theme for the first Roundtable event was how modern legal, national and organizational environments often impose restrictions on companies, which can hinder innovation. The topic was “Innovation and intrapreneurship in a rule centric world,” and the framework for it was the innovation paradox; innovation can lead to great success and market dominance but it can also lead to a state of comfortableness that in the end will pose a risk for the company to fail while having success. 

Alumni Update has spoken to two of the experts who participated in Roundtable – a practitioner and a CBS researcher – and asked what they each gained from the event.

The practitioner: A good update on CBS’ research

Senior Vice President for Corporate Strategy & Stakeholder Relations in DONG Energy, Jakob Askou Bøss, was among the invited representatives from the business community. He has, as both external lecturer at CBS and as a corporate CBS Executive customer, had quite a bit of contact to CBS’ researchers and always finds it enriching:

- I always find it interesting to debate a topic with researchers and learn from their perspectives on the things that we, as practitioners, work with in everyday life. The researchers often see the questions in a broader perspective and therefore also ask a different type of questions than we do in relation to solving practical issues. It often gives me some enriching perspectives, Jakob Askou Bøss remarks and continues:

- It was exciting that CBS took initiative to an event like this, and it was attended by very interesting people – both from the business community and from CBS. The combination of practitioners and researchers ensured that we had some many-faceted discussions that put the practitioners’ approaches to their present challenges into perspective in relation to those of the researchers.

- I would not say that I brought home any epiphanies but I gained a broad insight into the innovation research that is being conducted at CBS. It was an effective platform for meeting and gaining insights into the research and it was a welcome update.

- We, the invited practitioners, are all busy people with busy schedules and the Roundtable event was definitely worth the time we invested in it. Some of my most interesting conversations with some of the researchers actually happened after the program concluded. For future Roundtable events I would recommend a more direct approach and from the outset letting more of CBS’ participating researchers present themselves and their research.

The researcher: A very good and valuable business card

Professor Tor Hernes of the Department of Organization is as a researcher in organisations in contact with practitioners from the business community on an on-going basis. He believes this to be of crucial value, because his function as a researcher is to interpret and develop new interpretations of practice – so interaction is always with his own research and scientific goals as his agenda. He found the Roundtable event to be a good and valuable business card for CBS’ researchers and research, even though he did not agree with the basic premise of the topic chosen:

- I do not agree that the rules, boundaries, and structure of organisations hinder innovation, I rather believe that they make up the foundation and continuity of it and are therefore a resource for innovation. But it must be noted, that I as a researcher approach the concepts from a more abstract meta-level with the aim of impacting practice by impacting the actual conceptual universe that defines it, emphasises Tor Hernes and continues:

- It was exciting and inspiring to meet the very interesting and intelligent practitioners who had been invited to the event, and I am certain that we are all bringing home some interesting insights and information – but not at a specific and tangible level. To me, the greatest value was the affirmation of my own thoughts and research as being relevant and getting to resonate with some extremely skilled practitioners. That was a good experience.

- At the actual Roundtable I ended up functioning more as a mediator than as specialist. It was exciting to learn how these experienced and skilled practitioners work with the challenges of innovation in their respective organisations. But while they shared the conceptual universe relating to the topic, the differences in their organisations’ types and structures actually caused the challenges to be of very different natures. With my perspective as a researcher I was able to point out the contrasts on a more abstract level.

- As a researcher, it was also interesting to experience how the theoretical ballast from the practitioners’ education still makes up the foundation and conceptual universe in their work with the challenges in practice – even 10, 20, and 30 years out of school. In the meantime, social sciences research has continued to evolve, making the conceptual universe of the most recent research a very different one. And you cannot update conceptual universes at an event like Roundtable; you need a full course or continuing education programme for that.

- That being said, it was a great event and a valuable business card, or exchange of business cards. If I were to recommend something, it would be to be approach the topic more head on, faster, and in a more direct manner in the future, and let more of CBS’ researchers spend 5-10 minutes presenting themselves and their research.

Roundtable is undergoing product development

While both guests and CBS researchers stated their satisfaction with the concept overall, they also provided constructive criticism that is useful in the continued development of Roundtable events.

- The good and constructive criticism gives us a good foundation for developing the concept further. I am certain that the desire to dig deeper and get more of CBS’ researchers in play will influence the next Roundtable event, which has been planned for autumn, says Louise Seest, Director for CBS Business.

The next CBS Roundtable has been scheduled for Tuesday, 28 November.

The page was last edited by: Alumni // 10/20/2021