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J. Ojasalo, K. Ojasalo

Laurea University of Applied Sciences (FINLAND)
Knowledge gap:
The importance of research collaboration between academics and practitioners is increasingly important for research institutions and higher education organizations. It supports applied research and better respondes to criteria of various public research funding instruments, like those administrated by EU. Indeed, there is a clear need to increase the knowledge of this area. The present article addresses this knowledge gap.

The purpose of this article is to increase the knowledge of research collaboration between academics and practitioners in the case of developing a new innovation and business design tool. The tool developed in the research process is Service Logic Business Model Canvas (Ojasalo and Ojasalo, 2015).

The findings of the present article are based on empirical observations during the research process in which a new innovation and business design tool was developed. The method of the collaborative research process was based on interactive research (Gummesson, 2001, 38-41) and constructive method (Kasanen et al., 1993). The research process took 18. The interaction in which data were generated consisted of joint-workshops. The process included twelve interactive workshops in which data from pre-understanding, interaction, interpretation and increased understanding, and existing theories were interwoven together. The research was conducted in Finland and related to the activities of the Finnish Service Alliance. The workshops were documented by writing notes during and after each workshop, by collecting all the raw material produced by the participants during the workshops (notes, writings, and drawings made by the participants), by taking photographs, and by recording the most important parts of the workshops. After each workshop, the business model canvas, the central researched object, was further developed based on the data and increased understanding generated in the interactive workshop. The actors of the workshops were researchers and practitioners. In this case, “researchers” include academic researchers from seven universities and other research related organizations. They were professors, senior researchers, doctoral students and coordinators of large national research programs. “Practitioners” refer to representatives from companies and other organizations. “Practitioners” also include master level adult students who conduct their studies alongside their full time job in companies and other organizations. 18 researchers and 106 practitioners participated in this process. Thus, altogether 124 persons were involved in the research process. The data were qualitative in nature, and its subjective interpretation took place during and after the interactive workshops both individually and collectively. The participants of the first workshops were mostly researchers while the participants of the later workshops were mostly practitioners.

As a result, this article describes various aspects related to research collaboration between academics and practitioners during an 18-months research project.

Originality / Value:
The present article contributes to the literature by explaining empirical findings on the various aspects of research collaboration in a long research process between academics and practitioners involving a large number of academics from research academics and practitioners from various industries.