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“Values-based business models for sustainable value creation” is the title of the upcoming keynote at ABSRC conference in Ljubljana. Innovative companies with commitments to strong core values are also more successful economically in the long term than those driven by market opportunities. But how can we ensure that new products and services not only create added value by meeting short-term needs, but are also aligned with what different stakeholders such as company employees, customers, suppliers and societal stakeholders a better business models, and answers questions like: Why does a car have little to do with mobility? Why should we never need to buy another light bulb again? And how can small things make a big difference?

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Innovating our Common Future is the motto of the ISPIM 2021 conference in Berlin. With our Special Interest Group (SIG) track of activities (see here for an introduction to the SIG track), we join worldwide leading innovation professionals from research and advanced practice. Together with our colleagues from Borderstep we are hosting this event and contributed Values-Based and Sustainability-Oriented Innovation Management focus theme of the conference. Changing customer and stakeholder values and normative frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations create new challenges and opportunities for innovation. We call for demonstrations of innovative approaches and solutions for key societal challenges on local, regional and global levels and how these can create our common innovation future. More on our Special Interest Group please find here.

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We are pleased to announce an IJIM Special Issue on Managing Values for Innovation with Henning, Prof. Florian Luedeke-Freund and Prof. John Bessant, as guest editors.   Innovation management researchers and practitioners increasingly attend to the role that values and normative orientations play for innovation and its management (Breuer & Lüdeke-Freund, 2017a, 2017b; Globocnik et al., 2020; Pedersen et al., 2018). In many cases, innovation cannot be well understood, designed or managed without recurring to the values of those involved (cf. Freeman & Auster, 2015). Newer streams of research, such as responsible, social and sustainable innovation, result from an explicit orientation towards values and normative orientations (e.g., Adams et al., 2016; Lubberink et al., 2017; Owen et al., 2013). Values of privacy, equity, justice, safety and further issues humans deeply care about can serve as sources, levers, and orientation marks for innovation. Notions related to this ‘normative turn’ include responsible innovation, social innovation, sustainable innovation and purpose-driven business, just to name a few (e.g., Owen et al., 2013; Rey et al., 2017; Stilgoe et al., 2013).   This special issue focuses on managing, for example, personal, organisational or cultural values in relation to innovation, within and across individual organisations (networks) (Breuer & Lüdeke-Freund, 2017a, 2017b). Large companies like IBM have successfully worked with employee values to refresh their innovation activities and to foster intrapreneurship. Young companies like the online search engine Ecosia established an innovation culture based on core values. And social mission-driven businesses like Aravind Eye Care Systems developed new business models to turn their founders’ values and visions into reality. Depending on how values are managed, i.e. explored, understood and applied as sources, levers and orientation marks for innovation, they open up or foreclose opportunities for innovation research and practice.   However, reviewing the current literature reveals gaps in terms of empirical cases, applicable methods for researchers and practitioners and theoretical frameworks. Only few studies investigated, for example, the impact of values on financial or innovation performance, or found indicators for a positive relationship between organisational values, business model innovation and corporate financial performance (e.g., Globocnik et al., 2020; Manohar & Pandit, 2014; Pedersen et al., 2018). Accordingly, our knowledge about the normative turn in innovation research and management and the correspondingly emerging values-based view on innovation is still scarce. As a consequence, a common language and perspective for framing, analysing and communicating about how values can be managed for innovation is missing. Invited contributions   We invite researchers from various fields such as innovation management, business and management studies, cultural studies, organisational psychology, sociology or ethnography. We are interested in, for example:

  • Empirical studies: Cases of values-based innovation in practise and evidence-based assessment of their impact.
  • Innovation research methods: Analytical and empirical methods to elaborate upon the role of values in business organisations and their innovation projects and management.
  • Innovation facilitation methods: How to work with values in innovation management and entrepreneurial settings. Success factors and failure in the design of facilitation methods and assessment of their impacts.
  • Theoretical contributions: Theoretical frameworks explaining in how far values motivate and guide innovation and its management.
  Possible research questions include, but are not limited to the following:
  • Phenomenology: How do values impact and direct innovation and its management within individual firms or across organisations? How do organisations operationalize global values such as safety or privacy in order to initiate, manage or evaluate product, service or business model innovations? How do they recognize and integrate different stakeholders’ values (e.g. customers, innovation teams, external stakeholders etc.) into innovation processes?
  • Methodology: How can we empirically investigate converging or diverging values among entrepreneurs or stakeholders of an innovation process (e.g. customers, employees, managers, society)? How to study values on different analytical levels (e.g. individual, organisational, institutional, societal or global), including comparative and quantitative studies and the assessment of values’ impacts on innovation on these levels?
  • Facilitation Methods: How can new methods such as gamification facilitate the values-based creation of new products, services, business models or networks? How to reframe existing methodologies and methods (e.g. from ethnography or scenario management) to leverage the potential of values for innovation?
  • Theory: Which theoretical concepts from business ethics, organisational psychology, sociology or ethnology contribute to understanding the roles and impact of values on innovation management? How to estimate, manage and measure the diverse impacts of values-based innovation (incl. e.g. ecological, social, cultural and economic impacts).
  Tentative timeline The final set of papers shall be ready approx. 18 months after initial submission. Authors considering submitting to this IJIM special issue must make sure that they are able to follow the special issue schedule:
  • Full paper submission: between 1st July and 31st October 2020
  • Initial review: December 2020
  • Revised papers: March 2021
  • Second review: June 2021
  • Revised papers: September 2021
  • Handing in papers for final review by IJIM and production: November 2021
Papers that are ready for publication will be published on an ongoing basis (online first), before the special issue volume will be finally compiled.   Submission procedure We invite original, full-length research papers up to 40 pages (incl. references and appendices, excl. cover page and abstract; 12pt. Times-like fonts, 1.5 spacing). All authors must use the online submission system of IJIM and follow the journal’s submission guidelines ( Paper development workshops at ISPIM 2020 and NBM 2020 Authors considering submitting to this special issue might as well join the paper development workshops taking place at ISPIM 2020 (“Innovating Our Common Future” with a SIG on Values-Based and Sustainable Innovation), 8/9thth June 2020, and NBM 2020 (“New Business Models – Sustainable, Circular, Inclusive)”, 1st/2nd July 2020. For submission details see the conference websites. In parallel to submitting through the conference systems, please send your conference papers to h.breuer(at) and fluedeke-freund(at) The special issue guest editors will use the paper development workshops to help prospective contributors to develop their papers further.

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Innovating in Times of Crisis is the motto of the upcoming ISPIM Virtual Conference. We are featuring a new Special Interest Group with a dedicated track on Values-Based and Sustainable Innovation with some of the worldwide leading innovation specialists from research and advanced practice. As co-hosts of the conference we also contribute Values-Based and Sustainability-Oriented Innovation Management as focal topics. Changing customer and stakeholder values and normative frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations create new challenges and opportunities for innovation. We call for demonstrations of innovation approaches and solutions for key societal challenges on local, regional and global levels and how these can create our common innovation future.   20200522_CSI_Game_Instructions_ISPIM

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The current global crisis is shaking up everyone. Everybody’s life and every business is affected. While most people are still overwhelmed by the speed and diversity of related news and countermeasures, for some theorists these reactions already prove mankind’s ability for radical change based on scientific anticipation, values of solidarity and a primacy of politics and multilateralism over short-lived interests. However, will it allow us to look beyond the day into our common future?  

The management view

Corporate managers are well aware from previous crises that new profits, but also heavy losses in market share, arise in phases of economic downturn, more so than in phases of growth. Most of them anticipate that many of these losses and gains will outlast the acute crisis situation, and that innovation is their best vaccination against such a crisis. Some suspect that today’s customer concerns and desires make tomorrow’s business models, and look for ways of their sustainability-oriented renewal.  

The customer view

Likewise, many customers take a crisis as a chance to review their routines, and to reflect upon what is important to them, what they are missing most during a lockdown, and what they care about in any case. Even though some individuals are seeking to turn back time and suspect evil forces behind the situation, many are dealing with the crisis creatively, as any crisis pushes our readiness to change and innovate.  

The social researcher's view

Social research points out that the resulting shifts in behaviour and values are tricky to detect. Close observation and well-informed interpretation are required to see how and why customers do what they do: Which previously weak signals now turn into mainstream? Which new behaviours and values emerge that lead to a depreciation of taken-for-granted routines and push the adoption of innovations? And which customer insights can be derived from what we have been missing most?  

Beyond the new normal

Most people are now striving to get back to what is called the “new normal”, and imagine it like the life before the crisis, just with a few acceptable handicaps. However, we need to get beyond just going back to get in touch with what we care about. Along with an increased readiness for change comes the risk of seeking innovation primarily in crisis management mode. Already managers and politicians are negotiating which types of (combustion, electric, hydrogen) car engine purchases should benefit from state funding to overcome the economic downturn due to the crisis – instead of clarifying a shared vision of sustainable mobility first. According insights (e.g. from Agora) and scenarios are already available. Such foresight might keep them from state funding of generic categories of economic actors (e.g. small versus mid-sized companies) and interest groups independent of their environmental performance. Based on this it would be easier to see that recovery plans for combustion engines are not the way forward, but that whole ecosystems involving new services, regional planning and infrastructures, legislation and tax models are crucial parts of the agenda. However, moving towards a desirable future, it may not suffice to meet minimal environmental requirements and thresholds. Instead, we should agree upon and strive for a positive impact in each industry and each firm.  

Advancing from coping to caring for our common future

The conference theme of values-based innovation and the headlines of the global innovation conferences – ISPIM 2020 (Innovating in Times of Crisis) and ISPIM 2021 in Berlin (Innovating Our Common Future) – indicate this shift in perspectives. They also point to a major challenge we are facing over the next few months: How to proceed from coping with the current crisis to caring for our common future. Accordingly, this question will guide closing panel this year (with Allen Alexander of University of Exeter, Joana Breidenbach of and Klaus Fichter of Oldenburg University & Borderstep Institute for Innovation and Sustainability). What distinguishes coping from caring? Would you agree to the following contrasting juxtapositions?   Actually, coping and caring are not either or, nor a sequence of activities – as this table may suggest. Instead, the ways in which we cope with crisis already reflects the ways we care for our future – the second perspective is just more comprehensive.  

Upcoming isses for innovators

Moving on from coping to caring, how can we include sustainability-oriented goals into normative directives for companies and economic stakeholders, and transfer them into domain specific challenges, goals and innovation projects to achieve? How can we succeed with new business models that foster sustainable development? How can we continuously assess related activities against our normative goals? And how should we engage the stakeholders (especially customer and employees) in the process? The upcoming conferences 2020 online and 2021 in Berlin (both co-hosted by UXBerlin) address these and related questions. We will be happy to have you join us!

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Now online: The webinar on the use of remote games to foster innovation by Sune Gudiksen, Henning Breuer and Kiril Ivanov. "Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow" (William Pollard, 1828-1893). In the last few weeks, this statement has gained additional importance. The current circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic have not only forced numerous businesses to rapidly and effectively adopt a remote mindset, but have also confronted them with accompanying challenges for individuals and teams. How can companies ensure that innovative ideas of its stakeholders can be managed appropriately without face-to-face interaction? How can they rapidly align and constantly renew their portfolio in order to withstand economic pressure during the crisis and in the future?     The webinar gives insights into the opportunities and usage of remote games that foster innovation. It provides guidelines on how to drive innovation through remote games in times of crisis. What can you expect to take away from the webinar?

  • An understanding of the need to promote innovation even in remote situations to continue successful operation in complex and demanding markets.
  • An overview of opportunities to address this need with remote games and other initiatives in order to foster innovation throughout the remote team.
  • An introduction to the setup of the games and game elements, as well as the know-how and an exchange of experiences from our business partners.

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We opened up the International Conference on New Business Models with an introductory note (here the video) and a dive-in to a key topic of present-day’s innovation and entrepreneurship discourse: How can we develop viable businesses based on what we really care about?   We respond to this hot issue by presenting the values-based approach to innovation management. Understood as notions of the desirable, values provide a powerful lever for the companies that aspire to do well while doing good. Values can spur innovation in numerous ways, in order to set ambitious visions or to establish a common ground for partnerships, or to understand customer concerns in ways that are more fundamental.   Moreover, as we are moving from a single bottom line to a triple bottom line (of planet, people and profit) to measure business performance, and on to 17 Sustainable Development Goals to strive for, we need to recur to our values in order to interpret and to prioritize these global goals into unique business goals.   In a fishbowl discussion, two industry leaders will share their experiences with, challenges from, and measures to address values in innovation management and sustainable innovation:

  • Roman Meier-Andrae, Divisional Head of Corporate IT & Digitalisation, Member of the Executive Board at TÜV Nord Mobility, an organisation dedicated to making the world safer.
  • Philipp Baumann, Head of Product at Ecosia, the search engine that plants trees, and which is managed based on six core values.
  Following their input, participants from the audience will also join the discussion on „how to drive sustainability-oriented innovation based on shared values”.

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