Past Projects

The Temporality of Food Innovation (Velux Foundation)


Project members: 

Funded by:

Project period:

  • 2019-2021

Project focus

The theoretical focus
Advance the understanding of the temporality of innovations, explaining how novelty is created as actors engage with (re-)inventing the past to facilitate the emergence and institutionalization of novel practices for the future.

The empirical focus
Analyzing innovations at different levels (organization, event, and field) in the Danish food sector as a particular field of organizational and institutional actors.

The Danish Food Sector

The Danish food sector offers distinct advantages for the study of the temporality of innovations. In recent years, ‘New Nordic Food’ has been innovatively and successfully introduced by reviving long-forgotten techniques and ingredients, and inventing new ones, thereby bringing in new economic and work opportunities, and inspiring a cultural change in society. By drawing on the past and reinventing it, this innovation has opened up novel future ambitions and possibilities for food while building on Danish heritage in different food-related areas.

Sub-project 1 - Organizations

A study of food producing organizations to identify key temporal structures and investigate how they influence past and future in food products.

  • Research questionHow do food organizations work to integrate different pasts and futures in their products? And how does this affect their innovation processes and outcomes?
  • Methods and data: 1) Qualitative interviews with managers and employees of different units in food corporations and 2) participant observations of meetings and other encounters, such as strategy workshops or product development meetings
  • Contributions to the main project: This sub-project aims to contribute findings on the making of temporal structures in organizations; how they tend to influence innovative practices. The sub-project should moreover contribute insights into the dynamics between different temporal structures in innovation processes.

Sub-project 2 - Events

A study of food events such as Chef's manifesto and Madens Folkemøde 2019 to examine the emergence and diffusion of novel practices.

  • Research question: How are traditions revived at food events? And how are ideas for the future revealed as novel practices emerge and diffuse at food events?
  • Methods and data: 1) A participant observation approach at selected events 2) combined with in-depth interviews with participants and organizers of these events, 3) as well as access to historical data in terms of previous themes and participants.
    Data collection will take place over a two-year period and will be followed by analysis over time.
  • Contributions to the main project: This sub-project aims to provide insight on how the revealed and negotiated orientations to past, present and future shape and sustain innovations across different constituents.  

Sub-project 3 - Fields

A study of emerging food policies and initiatives about sustainable food in public organizations to explore how sustainable food is constituted as an innovation field.

  • Research question: How are pasts and futures negotiated discursively in the legitimization and institutionalization of sustainable food as a field, and through which practices do these discursive constructions take place?
  • Methods and data: The sub-project develops a qualitative method-design inspired by organizational ethnography with a particular focus on communication and discourse to collect rich data about the emergence and institutionalization of sustainable food as a field.
  • Contributions to the main projectThis sub-project aims to contribute with key findings of how temporal constructions are communicated and negotiated in everyday work practices (micro) and consolidate in discourses that may spread across sectors (meso) and scale up to constitute dominating discourses and institutionalize the field (macro).


Sub-projects' horizons

Study how actors interpret, negotiate, and enact different combinations of pasts and futures in innovation processes

Project Potentialities


Where do we want to go?

  • By bringing together and developing a core group of scholars on the temporality of innovations, we want to inspire a broader community of scholars engaged in exploring and advancing the understanding of temporal dynamics in their research by incorporating specific insights generated by the project into their research. This applies not only to the field of innovation, but also more broadly to the field of organizational and management studies. The project will contribute to on-going debates about how organizations and institutions address long-term societal challenges and how addressing distant futures influences them in the present
  • Furthermore, we will seek to bring research findings not only into academic discussions but also into debates in Danish food sector and society on the relationship of food innovations with topics, such as health, sustainability, and waste. This will be achieved through participation in conferences and public appearances in media, as well as at a workshop organized at the end of the project for researchers, practitioners and politicians.


Click here for interviews with researchers & practitioners on innovating sustainable food

The page was last edited by: Department of Organization // 08/29/2023