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Professor James K. Hazy and Professor Peter R. Wolenski

The chapter presents a general mathematical framework to study discontinuous change in human interaction dynamics. There are two complementary perspectives: macro and micro. Regarding the macro context, the chapter proposes that levels of ordered structure in complex human organizing can be represented by a category theoretic representation that reflects informational influence acting on individual agents from sources external to the population and those internal to the population. These independent influences interact to change the set of interaction rules that are enacted locally. Regarding micro context, the authors position contagion as the mechanism whereby a common organizing state is adopted across multiple agents. They show that as a general matter, the ordered structure that emerges within a population can be indexed as the number of active degrees of freedom embedded in local rules of interaction that are guiding groups of agents. Category theoretic mathematical approaches should be more used in social science research to suggest deductive hypotheses that can be tested empirically with definitive results.

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Edited by Eve Mitleton-Kelly, Alexandros Paraskevas and Christopher Day

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Dr Robin Durie, Dr Craig Lundy and Professor Katrina Wyatt

A number of drivers for contemporary research are focusing attention on how to achieve public engagement in research undertaken by Higher Education Institutes (HEIs). In 2008, RCUK funded six ‘Beacons for Public Engagement’. We sought to understand how each Beacon had created the conditions for two-way engagement in the research design and delivery. We undertook an initial scoping study of the organisational culture within each Beacon and, using maximum variation sampling, selected seven projects which were our case studies. The analysis of the findings from these case studies from a complex systems perspective led us to conceptualise an ‘engagement cycle' which has three phases or elements: creating the conditions; co-creation of research; and, feedback loops to inform ongoing and future research. In this chapter, we discuss the approach we used to gather the data, how complexity theory underpins the approach and the interpretation of the findings, and how the results led to the engagement cycle.

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Assistant Professor G. Christopher Crawford and Professor Bill McKelvey

Life is not normally distributed – we live in a world of extreme events that skew what we consider ‘average.’ The chapter begins with a brief explanation of the basic causes of skewed distributions followed by a section on horizontal scalability processes. These are generated by scale-free mechanisms that result in self-similar fractal structures within organizations. The discussion then focuses on one of the most cited mechanisms purported to cause power law distributions: Bak’s (1996) ‘self-organized criticality’. Using three longitudinal datasets of entrepreneurial ventures at different states of emergence, the chapter presents a method to determine whether data are power law distributed and, subsequently, how critical thresholds can be calculated. The analysis identifies the critical point in both founder inputs and venture outcomes, highlighting the threshold where systems transition from linear to nonlinear and from normal to novel. This provides scholars with a conceptual–empirical link for moving beyond loose qualitative metaphors to rigorous quantitative analysis in order to enhance the generalizability and utility of complexity science.

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Professor Alexandros Paraskevas

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Lars Fuglsang

This chapter presents the critical incident technique (CIT) and argues that CIT, when combined with other more ‘reflexive’ approaches, can provide an analysis of everyday experiences of services and make these experiences useful for innovation. The chapter seeks to place the critical incident technique in three different research traditions, with examples from services and innovation: positivist–functional, phenomenological–interpretivist and process-oriented reflexive. The value of the critical incident technique as a special interview and research technique for service innovation research is discussed.

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Jørn Kjølseth Møller and Flemming Sørensen

This chapter discusses the potential of interpretivist approaches for social network analysis (SNA) to analyse service innovation processes. The benefits of interpretivist SNA approaches are discussed and it is argued that in service innovation studies they contribute an important complementary approach to more typical positivist, mathematical and computational approaches. The chapter illustrates how interpretivist-oriented SNA can identify, emphasize and explain the dynamic development of innovation networks and how this development is related to service innovation. It can identify and highlight the complex combinations of factors, including a variety of contextual factors that are important for the character and development of social networks as well as related service innovation processes.

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Niels Nolsøe Grünbaum

The laddering method is a qualitative interview technique applied in a situation with one interviewer and one informant with the aim of creating an understanding of the value that business-to-consumer (B2C) customers extract from product attributes. Thus, this methodology aims to depict a mental map of what is actually going on in the consumer’s mind when the consumer is buying and consuming specific goods. It is argued, in this chapter, that this understanding is indeed both interesting and relevant in service innovation. More specifically, realizations of consumers’ values will help to guide marketers to understand what to innovate, how to innovate, how to plan and efficiently communicate changes, how to sell the innovations in the market place and how to implement organizational changes that innovations might cause. Furthermore, the laddering methodology has been applied across many fields with good success and the premises for using the method and for analyzing obtained data, is rather well described. The latter (i.e. premises and data analysis) is often raised as central and critical points of qualitative research methodology when arguing for problems with validity and reliability of findings.

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Anne Rørbæk Olesen

This chapter argues for the usefulness of visual mapping techniques for performing qualitative analysis of complex service innovation processes. Different mapping formats are presented, namely, matrices, networks, process maps, situational analysis maps and temporal situational analysis maps. For the purpose of researching service innovation processes, the three latter formats are argued to be particularly interesting. Process maps can give an overview of different periods and milestones in a process in one carefully organized location. Situational analysis maps and temporal situational analysis maps can open up complexities of service innovation processes, as well as close them down for presentational purposes. The mapping formats presented are illustrated by displaying maps from a research project example, and the chapter is concluded with a brief discussion of the limitations and pitfalls of using visual mapping techniques.

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Anne Vorre Hansen

The aim of the chapter is to discuss the possible use of narrative methodology in service innovation research by giving an empirical example of a service innovation process deeply rooted in narrative methodology. To take a narrative approach is to acknowledge stories as being conditional for human organizing and socializing. Therefore, narrative analysis is seen as a way to explore experiences and to play with future scenarios. As such, narratives have been used both to gain insight about customers and to create new stories of service relationships. The chapter presents the design, process and outcome of an innovation workshop, held in a non-profit housing association in Denmark. The case reveals how creating stories seems intuitive to the participants and how employees and residents, by co-creation of new “service” stories, found a neutral place for development, which is why the process in itself became an outcome. The intention is to present the framework of narrative methodology as a profitable mindset in service innovation processes rather than to present a fixed method. Hopefully, the chapter will be an inspiration for both doing and studying service innovation prospectively.