Mega-projects are complex undertakings for their leaders, and ones that involve substantial transformation. But when the performance of a failing and stigmatised mega-project needs to be transformed, that puts the leadership required into a very special category. In this chapter, we describe such a second order transformation and the ‘Unlikely Leader’, Neil Couling, who has achieved this over four and a half years. The leadership challenge is a wicked mess, having both social and dynamic complexity, and we consider the complexities of the project and the leadership responses to these. We then move to consider some of the characteristics of the leader, their resilience in particular, and the background that provided the foundation for his success. We analyse their leadership journey and finally that of the project itself, as the leader seeks to ‘Destigmatize’ the ‘Stigmatized Mega Project’ and re-establish its legitimacy.
Bernard Naughton and Lene Foss
This chapter asks, ‘How does an academic entrepreneur pursue responsible research commercialisation?’ Section 13.1 briefly describes the research frontier on academic entrepreneurship and argues for new knowledge on how university-based scientists can commercialise in a responsible way. Section 13.2 describes the empirical context, focusing on UK healthcare digitalisation and the academic policy context. Section 13.3 briefly describes a framework and methodology, followed by the narrative case study discussion in Section 13.4. The narrative case study identifies how this entrepreneur achieves his goals in the academic context and explains the barriers to technology commercialisation. This case also assesses the level of responsibility associated with the professor’s innovation and examines the importance of a psychological contract for an academic with an insecure position. Section 13.5 discusses the impact of our findings on current UK policy and practice and Section 13.6 concludes by highlighting the implications and considerations for theory and practice.