Sotarauta, Markku, and Nina Mustikkamäki. “Institutional entrepreneurship, power, and knowledge in innovation systems: institutionalization of regenerative medicine in Tampere, Finland.” Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 33.2 (2015): 342-357.
In this article, we ask what is the place of institutional entrepreneurship in an (regional) innovation system. The main research questions addressed are (a) how does a new science-based concentration of innovation become institutionalized in an innovation system, (b) who are the institutional entrepreneurs and what do they actually do in their efforts to institutionalize new beliefs, practices and activities within a system, and (c) what knowledge institutional entrepreneurs do need and what kind of power do they exercise in the institutionalization process.
We add new knowledge to studies focusing on innovation systems by revealing how new elements are attached into it. We also add power and knowledge to the study of institutional entrepreneurship and institutional change. The empirical analysis identifies the main phases of institutionalization, key actors in different phases and their strategies of influence. This paper is based on the analysis of secondary data and 28 interviews with key actors.
Dr. Markku Sotarauta is professor of regional development studies in Faculty of Management and Business at Tampere University, Finland. In 2011-2013, he served as the founding Dean of the School of Management and, in 2009-2010, as the last Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Administration. In 2008 he was appointed as a Visiting Professor in the Newcastle University Business School (UK) for a three year period.
Professor Sotarauta specializes in leadership, innovation systems, and institutional entrepreneurship in city and regional development. He has published widely on these issues in international journals and edited books. His latest publications include ‘Leadership and the city: Power, strategy and networks in the making of knowledge cities’, published by Routledge. Professor Sotarauta has worked with the Finnish Parliament, many Finnish ministries as well as cities and regions both in Finland and in other countries.
Hi welcome to coffee break with researchers. Today I’m having a coffee break with Markku Sotarauta, he is a professor at the faculty of management and business at the University of Tampere in Finland. He is also an expert in regional development and leadership.
Hello Markku, thank you for accepting my invitation to my coffee break, today I am having a delicious black Colombian coffee. Which coffee are you having?
I’m having the traditional black bitter Finish coffee, imported from Colombia I guess also.
That sounds delicious too.
I was just reading one of your recent papers, about how a cluster in regenerative medicine was developed in Finland, could you please tell me what the paper was about?
The paper was about actors, organizations and people working for stem cell based regenerative medicine that in time may turn into human spare parts industry here in Tampere, Finland. We wanted to understand how it came about here because they are doing revolutionary things first into world kind of inventions.
I find this topic truly fascinating. Could you please tell me which ones where your main findings?
First of all our main finding was that it is a long journey, that is not surprising lasting more than 20 years. The second observation was that there were kind of four main phases. The first one being planting the seeds of change. The second phase was about the collective belief formation. In the third phase they were making the decisions, establishing institutes and that kind of things. And fourth one, then really institutionalizing the new form of science and prospective industry here in Tampere.
I see that one of the key concepts in your research is institutional entrepreneurship. Could you please define it for me?
Yes well, first of all, institutions are all those things that are framing our actions and choices: normative things, regulative, cognitive, cultural, and referring to our thinking. Institutional entrepreneurs are actors, individuals, group of individuals, organizations, or groups of organizations seeing the opportunities to change institutions and they are taking risks in doing so, that is highly interesting because there is no monetary reward usually but sometimes end up having lots of difficulties too.
I would like to know which was your main motivation in doing this research.
There was a dual motivation. First of all I was member of the board of directors at the institute of regenerative medicine at our University, let’s say, I can’t remember exactly, 20 years ago. I was really fascinated with what they were doing and how they were doing it, and with the whole setup and I wanted to understand how it came about here in this place, so that perhaps we could learn from it to help others to do something similar. The second motivation was that I was keen on finding a new way of studying agencies so that we could focus on really significant forms of agency, something really happening, something that is changing the institutions, not only very minor actions at the micro-level, but I was interested in finding a way to study the interactions between institutions and actors.
So, what do you think we can learn from your research with regard to policy making and implementation?
I think the first lesson is that; quite often we see policy in simplistic terms. The whole process started here outside the policy sphere, almost completely, it was more like scientific hunts of two professors from two universities, and but in the second phase, which we labeled as belief formation, there the local regional level policy practitioners, center of expertise, programs in health technology especially were crucial in forming a collective belief, what can be done, what is not, what are the opportunities, what is there and so forth. In the third and fourth phases the policies were more traditional, basically providing local actions with funding, from Europe, national level, regional, local. And there are, I would say dozens of sources for funding for that specific journey to establish a human spare parts industry here in Finland.
This is a very interesting case study, thank you very much for having this nice chat with me. I wish you all the best for your future research and see you next time.
Thank you, it was a pleasure.
Tags: Finland, innovation systems, institutional entrepreneurship, Institutions, knowledge, power, regenerative medicine, Tampere