Reorganising for the market with an Industrial PhD – University of Copenhagen

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Re-organising for the market with an Industrial PhD

Post Danmark is undergoing a process of change from closed monopoly to modern service industry. To adjust to this transfer, continuous development of new products and services based on customer needs is required. An Industrial PhD, with a background in anthropology, was hired to contribute to the process.

Employees are important resources in Post Danmark’s transition to modern service industry. But the company also wants to involve consumers and external partners in the coming up with ideas for value-added services. This kind of “open innovation” is the focus of an Industrial PhD project involving Post Danmark and the Department of Anthropology at the University of Copenhagen.

The project consists of ethnographic fieldwork, as part of which the PhD student, Simon Lex, takes part in various development projects and studies the company’s social and cultural potential for working with “open innovation”. He collates information about the consumers’ and employees’ day-to-day activities and helps translate and conceptualise this knowledge for use to develop prototypes for new products and services.

Interdisciplinary innovation teams
Simon is part of Post Danmark's new focus on “The Innovation Team”, a multidisciplinary unit that comes up with initiatives to underpin Post Denmark's transition to a service company and generate new areas of business.

“Simon is part of a task force with a range of skills that complement each other really well. He applies classic anthropological analysis to corporate anthropology with a business perspective,” says Head of Innovation, Inge Speiermann.

Contact between Post Danmark and Simon Lex arose out of a pilot project that the company ran in collaboration with Anthropological Analysis at the University of Copenhagen. It soon became clear that much could be gained by appointing an Industrial PhD. “ For us, it was really important to bring in somebody who specialises in methodology and knows how to translate it into something tangible.” Speiermann explains. It was also important to her that the appointment of Simon as an Industrial PhD contact helped forge contact with the research community at the University of Copenhagen. “This gave us a route into the latest trends,” she points out.

Effective links with students
Simon Lex shares his experience and knowledge by teaching on the elite master’s programme in Anthropology and People-Centred Business.

As well as the important contribution to innovation in Post Danmark, Speiermann sees another advantage in having an Industrial PhD. “ Simon helps brand Post Danmark to a wide audience of students and brings knowledge of the company and innovation out to society in a new and effective way.”