VELUX Project: The Temporality of Innovations
(In Danish: Innovationers Temporalitet)
Co-leaders: Professor Tor Hernes & Professor Silviya Svejenova, Centre for Organizational Time, Department of Organisation (IOA), Copenhagen Business School
Sub-projects: Assistant Professor Iben Sandal Stjerne, Post Doc Miriam Feuls, Associate Professor Mie Plotnikof
Drawing on data from the Danish food sector, the project will investigate how, through a temporal lens, food innovations emerge and get sustained through processes across companies, events and public institutions. The empirical part of the project will address the research question:
How can the emergence and institutionalization of innovations in the Danish food sector be explained through the lens of temporality?
This question will be addressed through the empirical work of three sub-projects.
- How do food organizations work to integrate different pasts and futures in their products, and how does this affect their innovation processes and outcomes? (sub-project 1)
- How are traditions revived and ideas for the future revealed as novel practices emerge and diffuse at food events? (sub-project 2)
- 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? (sub-project 3)
Food is an ideal context for studying the temporality of innovations because it combines focus on craft and tradition with focus on possible new futures with different technologies, practices, habits, and ways of organizing. Moreover, durable change in society depends not just on innovations to emerge, but also to become legitimated and institutionalised at multiple levels ranging from consumers via organizations to policy levels. For example, in recent years Denmark’s food sector has innovatively and successfully introduced ‘New Nordic Food’ 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.
The theoretical part of our project will address the more general research question: How can innovations be explained through the lens of temporality? This will be done through the theoretical work of the three sub- projects, which will be synthesized into a shared theoretical framework for the main project. Results from the project will be communicated at academic conference presentations and through high-ranked scholarly publications, as well as in essays and at events directed to food sector and general public audiences.
Responsible: Professor Majken Schultz and Professor Tor Hernes
Funded by: The Tuborg Foundation
Project period: 2015-2018
This project focuses on how selected functions at Carlsberg and Arla engage in constructing their temporal trajectories, rooted in the past while oriented towards the anticipated future and how this work has changed over time. The research involves studying annual reports and interviews. We find that there are very significant differences in time horizons as well as in ways that time horizons are constructed by actors. Arla and Carlsberg are interesting to study, also because they operate in the food sector, which brings in additional aspects of temporality. On the one had there is nature, with cyclical temporalities and longer tersm risks of degradtion. On the other hand, there are consumers, who are both in a logic of instantaneity, in the sense that they want products to be available when they are needed, and a long-term temporality of wanting longer and healthier lives. The research intends to contribute towards knowledge about how actors construct their time.
The project is a continuation of a project that focused on the study of the identity transformation of Carlsberg Group 2009-2014, conducted by professor Majken Schultz and professor Emerita Mary Jo Hatch. One of the publications from this project addresses how organizational actors make use of the same historical artifact on different events, when creating a new future. (Administrative Science Quarterly, 2017), while another publication shows how organizational identity and culture interrelates across time in the context of management change (Academy of Management Discoveries, 2015). That project was also funded by Tuborg Foundation.