As part of our profiles of TIM people, let us introduce Ann-Kathrin Leiting of ETH Zurich which is in Switzerland. Ann-Kathrin, you recently won the TIM Best Paper Award at the 2020 Virtual Conference, so…

What are your research interests right now?

My current research interests include innovation, entrepreneurial experimentation, and corporate entrepreneurship. Specifically, I am studying how incumbent firms can use internal corporate venturing as vehicle for organizational transformation. This research is strongly informed by insights that I collected when spending three years with a large engineering and electronics company, closely working with entrepreneurial projects. Here I clearly observed the difficulties faced by corporate ventures when trying to integrate into the corporation to scale up their business.

In parallel, I am focusing on experimentation as key element of the scientific founder method that has become a commonly used means to validate ideas and optimize business models in the context of incumbent firms. I am interested in exploring the boundary conditions of scientific experimentation, as well as different functions of experimentation.

What do you think is your most exciting contribution to academia?

The research that I conducted during my PhD adds new theory to the way incumbent firms adopt entrepreneurial practices. In particular, it sheds new light onto the classical problem of why internal corporate ventures often disappoint in their actual outcome. This is of primary relevance since literature on internal corporate venturing often remains on a descriptive level without being sufficiently theoretically examined.

At the 2020 Conference you won the Best Paper Award from TIM. Tell us about the paper and why you think its findings are important.

In the paper we adopted an institutional logics lens and identified the contradictions between the entrepreneurial logic of ventures and the corporate logic of established organizations as critical factor preventing the successful integration of internal corporate ventures into the parent company. We zoomed into the micro-level mechanisms of how individuals, working on projects that fit within an entrepreneurial logic, legitimate their project to proponents of another logic. Thereby we borrowed the concept of acculturation from immigration literature and proved that successful integration of corporate ventures should not be limited to assimilation, but can lead to changes in the dominant logic through the insertion of elements of the new logic. Those insights not only extend literature on institutional logics and corporate venturing, but also contribute to a better understanding of how organizations morph over time.

Tell us something personal about yourself.

I love sports in general, especially running, cycling and hiking. Being outdoors in nature compensates for long office hours during my PhD and allows me to let my mind wander and come up with new ideas. I equally enjoy being creative, whether it is painting, handicrafts or working with wood. Creating something with my hands and having a visible result after a few hours of work can be really satisfying.

Thanks Ann-Kathrin!

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