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Agile, interdisciplinary research on digital transformation: Can the facilitator save us?


Agile, interdisciplinary research on digital transformation: Can the facilitator save us?

Through today’s technology everything has a digital dimension. And everything is connected. Effectively researching the resulting networks of effects won’t work within the narrow boundaries of individual disciplines. Interdisciplinary research is the solution. But it’s not an easy fix, as it, too comes with several challenges for research practice.

Through a study with researchers of digital transformation research we identified the following main challenges (Schmitt, Goldmann, Simon & Bieber, in press):
a) achieving a common understanding of interdisciplinarity in a diverse group of researchers,
b) finding a mutual understanding of foreign disciplinary concepts, methods and perspectives,
c) overcoming hierarchies, and
d) guiding and structuring the research process in an interdisciplinary team.

As supported through the study, interdisciplinary collaboration could benefit from focused support. The interviewed researchers call for an external entity to support and foster mutual understanding within interdisciplinary research teams. This added ‘facilitator’ – a concept borrowed from the field of business innovation – carries the hope of bridging the communicative and processual gaps between fragmented disciplinary approaches, and hierarchies. But will this hope be fulfilled? Will the facilitator be the one to successfully structure and guide processes of co-creation in yet uncharted environments?

With Johanna Rosenbusch (dwarfs and Giants), expert on process facilitation and transformation, Samuel Simon will discuss how might we include external roles such as the facilitator in research on digital transformation? Is this role able to address the challenges of interdisciplinary collaboration? Is the facilitator able to save us? And why is it misleading to put those questions like that?

Johanna’s deep love of facilitating processes actually started in academia – she once researched and programmed optimisation algorithms. Nowadays she’s working with the most complex “optimisation problem” ever – human to human collaboration. In 2016 she co-founded the innovation agency INNOVATION RADICALS, facilitating innovation processes with corporate clients. Since 2022 she’s co-creating organisational transformation as an evolutionary catalyst at dwarfs and Giants – rewriting the future of organization.

Maximilian Brenker will moderate the event.


Schmitt, J. B., Goldmann, A., Simon, S. T., & Bieber, C. (in press). Conception and Interpretation of Interdisciplinarity in Research Practice: Findings from Group Discussions in the Emerging Field of Digital Transformation. MINERVA.

For better planning, please send your registration to kolleg@cais-research.de and please let us know if you will be attending onsite or via WebEx.

You will find directions under contact.

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