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RESEARCH INTERESTS


My research falls within three broad areas of inquiry. The areas are overlapping in the sense that they all deal with issues of individual and collective growth in organizations. Much of my work also takes inspiration from the tradition of positive organizational scholarship and reflects a broad interest in practice theory, narrative psychology, literary theory and classical pragmatism.

Organizational change and identity formation

I have had a long standing fascination with organizational change processes, how they often are made possible and shaped by prior knowledge and practice, how bursts of growth may happen in completely new directions, how such growth processes are often characterized by deep levels of engagement, drama, hope and conflicts – and not the least, how they offer opportunities for individual growth. I have mostly worked with change processes in small and medium sized organizations (less than 500 employees).

Theoretically, my approach here is influenced by narrative psychology and practice theory. I believe Philip Selznick wrote insightfully about identity laden change processes decades before the birth of organizational identity literature. And I am deeply inspired by the work of William James, Mikhail Bakhtin, Jerome Bruner, Dan McAdams, Karl Scheibe, Theodore Sarbin and Stephen Crites.

Idea work and knowledge creation

This set of research interests grew from many years of initiating, leading and conducting action research projects, often with consortia of 4-8 participating organizations. Typically, these projects would take a holistic approach to organizational change, but with a focus on competence, strategy implementation and knowledge creation. We were a group of people at SINTEF who talked about a practice approach to knowledge management already in the mid 90s. The interests here included types of dynamic and non-hierarchical organizations often co-creating services with their clients, and types of work: from knowledge intensive work and professional service work and to what we have now coined “idea work”. At the heart are creative aspects of work, what makes it extraordinary and particularly valuable, how people and organizations grow in and through work. A practice based approach is key also here.

Organizational inquiry – philosophy and methods

This set of interests reflects both a preferred way of being in the field and a set of philosophical and methodological orientations. Most of my work at SINTEF has been in action research projects co-sponsored by participating organizations, a setting I find healthy (because we are forced to be relevant and co-create understanding) and inspiring (because what we do has great impact).

My methodological tastes lean towards narrative inquiry, process approaches and phenomenology. I have written about generativity in qualitative research, the role of laughter in interviewing and on the influence from pragmatism in organizational research. I am currently engaged in writing projects on wonder and the aesthetics of imagination in qualitative inquiry as well as on how collaborative research can benefit from using various types of visuals and physical props.