Course content

Kick off and Module 1

Kick off for students and supervisors: Day 1 of the first module. Mandatory sessions for all supervisors approx. 10 AM - 5 PM in Copenhagen

An industrial PhD can serve as a foundation for unique knowledge creation and sharing. As a result of the distinctive collaborative nature of an industrial PhD program, students have exceptional opportunities to obtain the best of both practice and academia. At the same time, the challenge of balancing a wide range of stakeholder expectations can be daunting and overwhelming.

The purpose of this kick-off module is to introduce the Industrial PhD course and the cohort. With the ambition of creating a shared understanding of the collaborative research practice of an industrial PhD, we will carefully discuss the learning objectives, the overall structure, and the logic of the course. In particular, we will give special attention to expectation management. By playing the Industrial Researcher Game, we will acquire hands-on experience of typical dilemmas that may arise in an industrial PhD course. A shared awareness of these cues can prevent misunderstandings and make the collaboration in the whole supervisor team more effective and fruitful.

This module is mandatory for the industrial PhD student and all supervisors.

Module 1 for students only: The best of both worlds - The potentials and pitfalls of mutual value co-creation in-between academia and practice

An industrial PhD is a PhD like all other PhDs. At the same time, an industrial PhD research is also a unique form of research and practice knowledge co-creation. The industrial PhD researcher’s position between practice and research comes with special opportunities and challenges. Experience from the industrial PhD programme informs us that these opportunities and challenges transcend academic disciplines and scientific traditions, so this introductory module focuses on the special role of the industrial PhD researcher.

With this module we would like to enable you to proactively position yourself and navigate in a field characterized by a variety of stakeholders with different conceptions of quality and value. How do you simultaneously create value in the research project for your host organization, your field of research, society, and yourself.

Module content

The module consists of two sections:

Section 1: Constructive controversy—value creation in between academia and practice

Experience from decades of Industrial PhD research as well as extant research literature inform us that delivery of practical impact in research comes with a number of special opportunities and challenges that transcend academic disciplines and scientific traditions. This part of the course discusses ways of harvesting the benefits and avoiding the pitfalls by proactively positioning yourself in a field characterized by a variety of stakeholders with different conceptions of quality/value. Taking the research literature dealing with such a researcher role and position as our point of departure, this part of the course discusses your position as a researcher in-between academia and practice working with your stakeholder interview and your practical impact potential. In addition to discussing your position as a double-hurdle researcher from research literature point of view, we also engage in an “Industrial PhD collaboratorium”. This takes the form of a panel debate where experienced Industrial PhD stakeholders is gathered to share ideas and advice for doing Industrial PhD research and debate Industrial PhD research with participants.

Section 2: Business/organizational strategy and your personal impact strategy

This second section of module 1 focuses on Industrial PhD research impact in the context of your host organization and strategic priorities with a view to building an “impact case” and stakeholder analysis of the individual Industrial PhD researcher’s project, placing it in the value chain and wider stakeholder ecosystem.

Module 2, Elective in Project Management

Project management and organisational dynamics

This module aims at enhancing participants’ knowledge about project management, while fostering a reflexive approach to the subject and its practice. It will introduce two different theoretical perspectives on project management: One represents the traditional view on project management, represented clearly in international standards and most textbooks. The other perspective represents the so called ‘Scandinavian school’ of project management, which on the one hand acknowledges the need for classic planning tools and methods, but also reflects on the need for flexibility and co-creation to cope with the high uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of projects.

We then bring the two theoretical perspectives into three core project practices, that is, three levers/pillars that every project practitioner will do:

  • Aiming: Creating the vision, purpose, scope and planning.
  • Adapting: Identifying and responding to risks, opportunities and unexpected changes to project processes, project content and project context.
  • Collaborating: Navigating in the complex stakeholder landscapes that most projects face today.

The two perspectives and three project practices form a 2x3 matrix that will guide the course.

Module Content:

The intention is that all subjects in the curriculum of this module will be illustrated through practical exercises, relating the theory and the analytical tools to the individual PhD project and other projects.

  • Aiming the Project: Purpose and plan

    Apply tools and concepts to define project vision, purpose, scope, success and benefit, and connect these with a project plan. As we discuss aspects of planning, and timing, we will discuss behavioral aspects of scheduling, e.g. procrastination, overly cautious scheduling, and identify pragmatic coping strategies to mitigate them in own projects.

  • Adapting the project: Uncertainty and change

    Explain impact of uncertainty and change in projects and identify mitigation strategies for own projects.

  • Collaborating in and around the project: Dynamic contingency stakeholder management

    Being able to recognize the importance of different requirements from different stakeholders, e.g. need for progress reporting versus dialogue.

Module 2, Elective in Innovation

Inspiring entrepreneurship and making innovation happen

The module explores entrepreneurial behavior by individuals that leads to the discovery of new business opportunities and how established firms/organisations may exploit such opportunities. Entrepreneurship has become a key focus area in today’s dynamic competition. The classical type of entrepreneurship, self-employment, has become a means to fuel growth. However, the view that the study of entrepreneurship means the study of people who create companies is unnecessarily constraining. Entrepreneurship also involves complex processes of assembling bundles of complementary resources and coordinating actions and investments over time in the pursuit of profit under uncertainty—all activities associated with the established firm. Thus, recruitment and support of employees engaging in entrepreneurial behavior is a key factor in firms’ competitive strategy. However, until recently, most research has focused on the individual entrepreneur establishing a new venture and given little emphasis on the entrepreneurial behavior carried out by salaried employees. Also, most managerial advice about entrepreneurship within established firms has been based on anecdotal evidence or single case studies.

This module breaks with the focus on individuals and instead emphasizes that established firms may be uniquely positioned to use organizational mechanisms that exacerbate entrepreneurial behavior. In relation to the Industrial PhD programme, this may involve exploring questions such as:

  • Who should be entrusted with engaging in entrepreneurial activities?
  • What is the role of senior management in the entrepreneurial process?
  • How do firms organize to emphasize the entrepreneurial motivation of their employees?

In addition to a research-driven curriculum, students are prompted to apply module material to practical business circumstances. This involves, for example, relating research findings to business cases and discussion with industry guest speakers.

Module 2, Elective in Communication

A toolkit for communicating the impact of your research - audiences, modes, media and interactions

This module aims at establishing a solid foundation for the development of the Industrial PhDs’ communication competence with a view to enhancing the ability and motivation for effectively communicating the value of their research in a multi-stakeholder research set-up.The module takes as its point of departure that:

  • Research communication is an active and productive element of the collaborative research process which can stimulate dialogue, mutuality and value creation.
  • Industrial PhDs stand to gain from being able to address a number of different interests and values in their communication; not only after project completion, but also during the research project as a path ways for fostering productive interactions with stakeholders, trust and room for maneuvering.

In effect, this module aims at making participants capable of delivering on their knowledge dissemination obligation in an active, strategic and meaningful way.

Module 3

Empowerment on the personal level: Incorporate career goals, keep up energy and manage the supervisory relationship in the industrial PhD setting

This module aims to empower the participants by giving them personal tools that target the specific challenge to navigate in the Industrial PhD setting.

When the participant take module 3, they are at the middle stage of the PhD study, which is often characterized by challenges such as increasing time-pressure and the feeling that there is still far to go. The module addresses three topics that are specifically challenging for industrial PhD students:

  • Worries about possible career paths.
  • Different expectations from the academic and industrial setting.
  • Coping with stress and exhaustion due to their many obligations.

It also rounds up the course; while module 1 explores the in-between position of an industrial PhD student as a particular platform of inquiry and knowledge creation that comes with a range of possibilities and challenges, module 3 further explores this position, zooming in on the ability to handle these special challenges and opportunities on the more personal level.