What has been your career path leading up to your current position?
I have a master’s degree in economics and a PhD in sociology, both from the University of Oslo. Economics and sociology are in many ways two contradictory fields of study, and I have learned a lot about interdisciplinarity by studying both subjects.
I am particularly interested in the subject of innovation, and within that field it is very interesting to know both economics and sociology. This is because innovation is a subject with contrasting views but without definitive answers. You must be able to handle different angles, whether qualitative, quantitative, or whether economic or societal factors are at the centre.
As for my career, I first worked as a research assistant at the Norwegian Institute for Consumer Research from 1988 to 1992. Then I received a Fulbright scholarship to be a visiting scholar at Berkeley for a year from 1993 to 1994 - a stay that was very inspiring. When I returned to Norway, I got a position as an associate professor at the Norwegian School of Trade and Retail Management from 1994, until it was acquired by BI in 2000. I have been employed here at BI since then and received the title of full professor in 2018.
What are your current research projects?
In my research, I focus a lot on innovation and digital transformation. I am deeply interested with culture for innovation and the development of sustainable business models.
In July my book entitled Innovation Ability and Digital Transformation in Norwegian Companies (Innovasjonsevne og digital transformasjon i norske bedrifter) was published. I discuss how companies must build their innovation ability before they can succeed with digital transformation.
Innovation ability is about creating value through innovation. I define innovation as innovation capacity plus innovation capability. The former is about resources the company has available. This can be employees, money, or physical premises. However, even if the innovation capacity is increased, this does not necessarily lead to more innovation or increased value. Yet, this is what most companies prioritize in their innovation work. This is because the innovation capacity is very visible, and the company can thus point to it and say that "we innovate".
The company's ability to innovate, on the other hand, is far more important for innovation, but more difficult to measure. Therefore, companies often lower the priority of developing their innovation capacity. An important insight I have gained through my research is that it is of no use to spend a lot of money on increasing innovation capacity if you do not have the ability to develop and implement innovation.