University of Innsbruck

Name: Univ. Prof. Leonhard Dobusch

Department and Team: Institute for Organisation and Learning

At the Faculty since: 02/2016

One focus of my research is on openness as an organisational principle that is becoming more and more widespread - from open source software and open science to open innovation, open data and government, and open strategy. A central finding here is that purely formal openness is often accompanied by unintended exclusion. Accordingly, the question arises as to what the prerequisites are for forms of inclusive openness.

A second focus is "alternatives to intellectual property rights" in dealing with regulatory uncertainty in creative processes in the pharmaceutical industry. Here, for example, we are investigating attempts to organise development of and access to COVID19 vaccines beyond traditional, patent-based approaches and thus make them more open also for countries of the Global South.

A third focus attempts to fundamentally redefine our understanding of organisation in terms of organisationality in order to be able to grasp new, fluid forms of organisation without having to dispense with analytical demarcations from other forms of the social. Organisationality is understood as a gradual property of social systems, which can be pronounced to different degrees.

Questions (of dealing with) increased organisational openness arise in almost all organisations, whether companies, public administrations or in the field of science. The same applies to new, fluid organisational forms and processes.

Dealing with regulatory uncertainty in the context of intellectual property rights has gained relevance not least because of the Corona pandemic, since access to vaccines and medicines in the Global South - quite apart from ethical considerations - is also a prerequisite for combating the pandemic in the Global North itself.

  • Together with Violetta Splitter (University of Zurich), Georg von Krogh (ETH Zurich), Richard Whittington (University of Oxford) and Peter Walgenbach (University of Jena), I am co-editor of a Special Issue of the journal "Organization Studies" on the topic "Open Organizing in an Open Society? Conditions, Consequences and Contradictions of Openness as an Organizing Principle".
  • Together with Sigrid Quack (University of Duisburg-Essen), we are working on a three-year research project funded by the DFG and FWF on alternative forms of regulating creativity beyond the classical forms of so-called "intellectual property rights" "Organising Creativity under Regulatory Uncertainty: Alternative Approaches to Intellectual Property".
  • Together with Dennis Schöneborn (Copenhagen Business School) and David Seidl (University of Zurich), I am working on a fundamental conception of a "theory of organisationality".

In the field of organisational openness, these included research projects on the (lack of) openness of strategy processes in the context of the free online encyclopaedia Wikipedia:

  • Dobusch, L., & Dobusch L. (2022): How open are 'open' online communities? Inclusion, exclusion and the ambivalence of closure. Cologne Journal for Sociology and Social Psychology, 74, 257-281
  • Dobusch, L., Dobusch, L., & Müller-Seitz, G. (2019). Closing for the Benefit of Openness: Lessons from Wikimedia's Open Strategy Process. Organization Studies, 40(3), 343-370.
  • Dobusch, L., & Kapeller, J. (2018). Open Strategy-making with Crowds and Communities: Comparing Wikimedia and Creative Commons. Long Range Planning, 51(4), 561-579.

In Regulatory uncertainty and alternative forms of regulation of intellectual property rights :

  • Dobusch, L., Hondros, K., Quack, S., & Zangerle, K. (2021). Between Anxiety and Hope: How Actors Experience Regulatory Uncertainty in Creative Processes in Music and Pharma. Research in the Sociology of Organizations, 75, 137-160
  • Dobusch, L., Lang, M., & Quack, S. (2017). Open for Feedback? Formal and Informal Recursivity in the Transnational Standard-Setting of Creative Commons. Global Policy, 8 (3), 353-363

In New Forms of Organisationality, a Study of the Communicative Constitution of the Hacker Collective Anonymous:

  • Dobusch, L., & Schoenborn, D. (2015). Fluidity, Identity and Organizationality: The Communicative Constitution of Anonymous. Journal of Management Studies, 52 (8), 1005-1035

Within the Academy of Management, I am Chair of the Executive Board of the Interest Group "Strategizing Activities and Practices".

I have also been a regular sub-theme leader at the annual European Group of Organization Studies Colloquium on Organizational Openness.

I wrote a paper on "Windows versus Linux: Market - Organisation - Path" for the DFG-funded Research Training Group "Pathways organisational process" at the FU Berlin about (failed) attempts in large city administrations, specifically Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich and Vienna, to switch their desktop software environment from Windows to Linux.

I also try to live the research topic "openness as an organisational principle" in my courses. For example, within the framework of a wiki-based course on the topic "Open Organizations and Organizing Openness" as well as in the form of the collaborative and open online course series "Organizing in Times of Crisis", the first version of which on the topic "The Case of Covid19" was awarded the "Ideas Worth Teaching Award" by the renowned Aspen Institute. In both cases, all course materials are openly accessible on the web under free licences.

At the Faculty of Business Administration at the University of Innsbruck, I particularly appreciate the great openness to different methods and theories, which in turn is a prerequisite for transdisciplinary connectivity and cooperation.

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