In progress Advancing Research on Innovation Management: an Open PhD Position



Innovation Management studies how organizations bring innovations to life successfully. A successful innovation involves all actions needed to generate creative ideas and to turn these into attractive new products, services, and business models. The Innovation Management group at RSM is a team composed of several young and ambitious international faculty whose research focuses on idea management, leadership in innovation, control of innovation projects, standardization and innovation strategies. We also execute large research projects in collaboration with leading organizations on sustainable innovation and on creative industries. Our research is often empirical, but quantitative modelling and qualitative methods are also applied. Doctoral students can choose to join the projects described below or elaborate their own PhD project.


Innovation, Creativity, Idea management, Co-creation, Project management, Complex systems, Leadership, Strategy, Sustainability

Time frame

2017 - 2021


The research in our group is multifaceted and doctoral students can choose to join the projects described below or elaborate their own PhD project.

 Idea management - cultivating better ideas: Companies increasingly use idea management programs to collect ideas from their employees (e.g., the “Shell GameChanger” program) or from people outside of the organization (e.g., the “My Starbucks Idea” program). However, having many ideas does not automatically mean that one has many good ones. Therefore, the question is how companies can better manage the influx of ideas and help inventors to cultivate high-quality ideas. For instance, is it useful that members of an online community discuss and select ideas? Are certain leadership styles of managers useful so that inventors generate high-quality ideas? Does the network of an idea initiator help to generate better ideas? How does feedback about earlier ideas improve the quality of subsequent ideas? Past studies have mainly focused on the conditions that are conducive to generating more ideas. By better understanding the factors that lead to high-quality ideas, firms can make optimal use of one their most valuable resources: the creativity of their inventors.

Do not hesitate to contact Dirk Deichmann for further information:

Leadership in innovation: Innovation, and especially radical innovation, generally starts with a vague and ambiguous idea: an extremely cheap car, a very cool computer, a new way to generate energy, etc. Such ideas are visions of the future, images of how the future could look like. If the founder of the idea is to sell his/her innovation, (s)he should better be good at communicating his/her vision. Even the most promising ideas need to overcome obstacles: people naturally say no, rather than yes, to new endeavors! This is the heart of this topic: How can people communicate visions about innovations most effectively? How can they persuade others that, indeed, it is this innovation that is needed? To some extent, the project aims to investigate a hidden dimension of innovation management: the politics of innovation. Candidates interested in this topic should be willing to do quantitative research in the laboratory or in the field regarding vision communication. Most likely, the theoretical basis of their ideas will come from political science, leadership, and/or social psychology.

Do not hesitate to contact Daan Stam for further information:

Disruptive innovation: Disruptive innovations drastically change the basis of competition and reshape the marketplace. A recent trend also documents so-called “frugal” innovations that focus on consumer needs in developing economies, are subsequently commercialized and disrupt the developed markets. Despite the prevalence of disruptive innovations in business, our knowledge on the drivers and process of disruptive innovations is limited. This project aims to explain why organizations pursue disruptive innovation strategies, and how organizations can better manage their innovation process to foster disruptive innovations. In addition to clear academic contributions, this project will provide invaluable insights to executives in managing disruptive innovations and protecting themselves against disruptive threats.

Do not hesitate to contact Murat Tarakci for further information:

Managing innovation projects - firmness or flexibility? One of the major questions in innovation management concerns the extent to which innovation projects should be strictly or loosely managed. Project teams and their members need to be efficient and effective, but should also be able to generate new ideas and solve problems at their own discretion. This project aims to explore the idea that different managerial mechanisms each manage knowledge in a unique way and therefore have their unique consequences. Based on recent theoretical developments, it can be argued, for example, that managing a project by setting goals leads to more innovative products and that managing projects by prescribing behavior leads to predictable outcomes. Investigating these effects is important as it is not about managerial controls themselves, but about the way in which they relate to the essence of product innovation: the generation and application of new knowledge. Other questions to be addressed may include: What is the role of expertise and knowledge of the manager? What is the role of expertise and knowledge of the project team? How does the effectiveness of control mechanisms differ between incremental and radically new projects? What is the role of organizational borders?

Do not hesitate to contact Serge Rijsdijk for further information:

Complex systems: The shift towards integrating computers in all sorts of products and networking them so that they can “talk to each other” brings an increase in system innovation with it. Examples of such systems, which are currently being developed, include ‘Industry 4.0’, the ‘Internet of Things’ and autonomous transport. Such systems tend to be so complex that no individual company is able to develop them by itself. Consequently, a method to coordinate activities by those who are involved in the system’s development is needed to ensure that a solution is created which enables individual elements to work together seamlessly. No academic literature has investigated the role that standards play in this context so far. The proposed study would take a first step towards closing this gap by investigating the role of standards in Industry 4.0. Research will be carried out in close cooperation with industry, industry associations and standards bodies in China, Germany and the Netherlands.

Do not hesitate to contact Henk de Vries or Knut Blind for further information:,

Micro-foundations of innovation networks: Recent research has shown that innovation does not “happen” in isolation; it occurs within a relational context in which single individuals and firms collaborate and compete with other actors in broader networks of social interactions. Despite this earlier research, important questions still have to be explored: To what extent do individual people with their idiosyncrasies (demographic features, psychology, and cognition) contribute to construct and shape innovation through the intra-organizational social networks in which they are embedded? What is the role of subunit, firm or industry-level characteristics in affecting the formation and the functioning of innovation networks? In this project, we focus on the micro-foundations of innovation networks. We conduct conceptual and empirical research examining whether intra-organizational networks relate to the generation of innovation; whether the development of these networks is affected by the firm or the larger environment; or whether innovation is developed through the coevolution of individuals in their idiosyncrasies and firms in their differentiated structures.

Do not hesitate to contact Stefano Tasselli for information:



Jan van den Ende
Professor of Management of Technology and Innovation
  • Promotor