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Wed, 20 Mar




The 'IN CONVERSATION' series portray prominent innovation scholars of the day in the form of intellectual-biographical interviews. The 17th episode features MARK DODGSON in a deep conversation with ANDREW DAVIES on 20 MARCH 2024. Co-organised with the IS-DISCUSSION-GROUP, CSIRO, Australia

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Time & Location

20 Mar 2024, 9:00 am – 11:00 am UTC



About the Event

About the Event

The IN CONVERSATION series portrays prominent innovation scholars of the day in the form of intellectual-biographical interviews. In the 16th event MARK DODGSON  will be interviewed by ANDREW DAVIES. Panel of discussants: AMMON SALTER, TIM KASTELLE & MARINA ZHANG. The event will be moderated by DILUPA NAKANDALA.

READ MORE....................Click the link below

This panel is Co-organised with the IS-DISCUSSION-GROUP, CSIRO, Australia

On 20 MARCH, 2024

At 9 AM GMT | 9 AM UK 

10 am Denmark, France, Italy | 11 am South Africa | 12 pm EAT | 2.30 pm India | 5 pm China & Malaysia | 6 pm Tokyo | 8 pm Canberra

Structure of the program (2 hours split up as follows)

Brief intro to the program and introducing ANDY by DILUPA, Moderator (5 minutes)

i. Introductory remarks by ANDY and MARK is introduced (10 minutes) followed by a conversation between them as follows

ii. Formative years and major influences - (10 minutes)

iii. Contributions, Critique and weakness, Current work & future course - (35 minutes): starting from the important contributions of  MARK , evolving towards a critical evaluation of his work. Then moving on to discussions on what next given the changing circumstances, how the theoretical contributions are relevant in current circumstances etc. It is a platform to convey what they want future generations to take from  MARK  and how they can further develop standing on the strong base that was created.

iv. Comment on Status of Innovation Economics and what next? - (10 minutes)

Some of the possible questions could be the following. However the speakers can shape it the way they want it to be!· How did you end up doing research on innovation?· What were your most important contributions to the field?· To what degree have you engaged in teamwork and collective research?· How do you see the relationship between economics and innovation studies?· How do you see the role of innovation policy and innovation politics in development strategies?· How do you see the future for innovation studies?· At what level should we study innovation – micro, meso and macro?· What kind of methods should we use to study innovation and economic development?· What kind of advice would you like to give to young innovation scholars?· What role can innovation play in meeting global challenges?


v. Discussion (1 hour): For the 1 hour discussion a panel of 3 scholars (AMMON SALTER, TIM KASTELLE & MARINA ZHANG ) will ask questions and / or make comments on  MARK 's work. After  MARK 's response to them the forum will be open for questions from the audience.

Finally ANDY winds up the session with a vote of thanks.


MARK DODGSON (Auto biographical note exclusively prepared for this event)

My formative years were spent in Wales and Uganda, both countries that I love. I have so many wonderful memories of Uganda, such as flying into remote airstrips with my pilot father and on one occasion nearly hitting a rhinoceros during landing. I also met the dictator President Idi Amin twice, including having dinner with him. His murderous regime later killed three of my schoolfriends. His expelling of the Asian population aided my radicalisation as I saw the way they were treated once they were settled in the UK. I became involved in a famous UK industrial dispute, where Ugandan Asian women were fighting to join a union. I ended up being arrested a couple of times on their picket line and spending some time in prison.

I was a terrible school student, getting the barest minimum qualifications that allowed me to get into a Polytechnic. Not knowing what to study I followed my girlfriend of the time into doing a degree called ‘Society and Technology’, where the seeds of my thinking about interdisciplinarity were sown. But again, I was a lousy student, and spent more time in bars arguing about politics than studying. Because of my experience of the Asian women’s dispute I managed to get on a Master degree in Industrial Relations, which I somehow managed to pass, although for some reason no one would hire me, so I ended up as a lorry driver for 3 years. For a period I worked making sound equipment for bands, such as Pink Floyd, and in the factory one day I saw an advert for PhD students at Imperial College. At the spur of the moment I ‘phoned them and said I’d like to do a PhD, only to be thrown by the question “what do you want to study?”. Fortunately I remembered the factory next door had just introduced a brand new computer numerical control (CNC) machine tool, so I said I wanted to study CNC machine tools, which seemed to fit the bill and I was invited into interview. Having spent a couple of hours in the next door factory learning about CNC I blinded the interview panel with the depth of my knowledge and was offered a full scholarship.

During my first day at Imperial I met the world famous Japanologist Ron Dore, and he said he had an interest in CNC and its comparative use in Japan and the West. I asked him for a job on the spot, and he said come and see me in a year when you’ve done your fieldwork. After a year studying CNC use in 50 factories in some of the dreariest industrial estates in England, he gave me a job. I worked for him half time during the next year when I finished my thesis. I then got a full time job in Ron’s research centre in London. It was called the Technical Change Centre (TCC) and it had been established as a right wing alternative to the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at Sussex University. Ironically, many of the staff at the TCC were very left wing. After a couple of years at the TCC I was offered a job at SPRU (allegedly the first person ever to be appointed following a formal interview), joining it in 1985.

As a result of luck, fortunate meetings, and the goodwill of people promoting my interests I ended up with my dream job – Research Fellow at SPRU. These were fantastic times with so much brilliant research being undertaken, with such exciting intellectual activity. I made lifelong friends. I developed my research skills there, and worked with so many wonderful people who taught me so much, especially:

Chris Freeman – the importance of intellectual openness and being professionally prepared for every single lecture and seminar.

Keith Pavitt – the importance of giving and taking criticism (he was very active in the former).

Roy Rothwell – focus on management and publish as much as you can to diffuse your findings, not worrying about the ‘quality’ of the journal.

Margaret Sharp – always think about the politics (appropriate as she ended up in the House of Lords).

Geoff Oldham – always think about consequences for the developing world.

John Bessant (not strictly SPRU, but SPRU family) – respect other’s work and be encouraging of everyone.

At SPRU I started the MSc in Technology Management, then the third such programme in the world. I learned about European policy by researching and being on a few European Commission advisory groups. At the invitation of its CEO I spent a year based in Celltech, then Europe’s leading biotechnology company, and the research I conducted there led to my interest in organizational learning. I did work on small firms, collaboration, technology transfer, and technology strategy.

Geoff Oldham, SPRU’s Director, asked me if I’d like to go to Australia to help develop its innovation policy and I jumped at the chance. I immediately fell in love with Australia and, due to the good offices of a great friend, Jane Marceau, was fortunate enough to be offered a 3-month fellowship by the Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee which allowed me to bring my wife and 3 young children and give a lecture in every major city. I was based at the Australian National University (ANU), which was thinking of starting an MBA and asked my opinion of the sort of person who should lead it. I wrote the job description, and finding amazingly that I had the right skills and experiences, applied for and got the job. I had 10 years at the ANU, as its first Professor of Management, building what became the National Graduate School of Management of which I was Executive Director. I learned about university politics the hard way, but also had the opportunity to work and travel extensively throughout Asia, developing enormous respect for Asian culture and people. I did a lot of work for the government and started Master degrees in Industry Policy and Innovation Policy as well as an MBA that focussed on Asian business.

In 2002 the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Queensland visited me in my office and asked me when I last did any serious research. I was on dozens of committees and most of my time was spend raising money and dealing with staff issues. He said come to Queensland and run an excellent Technology and Innovation Management Centre he had established and promised me $1 million in research funds. I took and job and soon found out he had lied. The Centre wasn’t very good and the money was all spent (I forgave him, as he was a very good Vice-Chancellor). I slimmed down the Centre and moved it from the Engineering Faculty into the Business School. I recruited some very good people to get on with things and started to research and enjoy myself again.

Particularly important at this time was rebuilding my connections with Imperial College, and especially working with David Gann (who in one way or another has been my closest colleague for 35 years), Ammon Salter, Nelson Phillips, and Ritsuko Ozaki. Probably the most interesting work we did was exploring how the innovation process was changing as a result of digital technologies. I also began to do more research on China and Korea, working with a brilliant Chinese scholar, Marina Zhang. Amongst many memorable research visits to Korea, I visited a number of car plants with Dick Nelson and admired how carefully he listened to interviewees and how astute his questions were. I was also fortunate to hang on the coattails of research projects on large, complex projects conducted by Andy Davies and Sam MacAulay. I also had opportunities to spend time in some Latin American countries, relishing the warmth of my friendships there and marvelling at their capacity to have political arguments at breakfast.

I became more involved in business, sitting on the Boards of a number of start-ups and two multi-billion dollar companies. The latter gave me experiences well beyond those I had in academia, where my decisions actually immediately mattered. It was a shock to have to make decisions to spend billions of dollars involving thousands of jobs. There were many compensations, such as a week flying by helicopter all around Borneo and spending time on massive projects in the beautiful Pilbara region of Western Australia.

I had the wonderful opportunity later in my career to be completely indulgent as to what I wanted to do. I became interested in philanthropy and was for 3 years the Director of the Oxford Centre for the Study of Philanthropy. My connections with Oxford continue as I am associated with two entrepreneurship centres in the Said Business School and with Magdalen College. I very much enjoyed a study I recently completed looking at the development of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, researching the scientists whose brilliance is matched by their passion for public health.

My career has been shaped by the luck I have enjoyed. The luck of having wonderful teachers and mentors to have helped me and the luck of being in the right place at the right time. And I have been lucky in making my career the study of innovation and applying that learning to business and government. Innovation is a wonderfully promiscuous subject. I have had the great fortune to research it in over 60 countries, in numerous sectors and types of firm. I have published on innovation in journals in science, research and innovation policy, business and management, organization studies, history, economics, information systems, geography, small firms, engineering, projects, international business, human relations, higher education, skills and employment, and technology transfer. These have been co-authored with over 60 people, all of whom I owe a debt for what they taught me.

To be a researcher is a blessing as there is nothing so intellectually satisfying as systematically being able to study an issue that you are interested in. I’ve enjoyed all the many and diverse research projects I’ve been involved with, but if I had to choose one that gave me the greatest pleasure it would be my work on the 18th century English potter, Josiah Wedgwood. And how did I first learn about Wedgwood? Chris Freeman. Chris and I ran an executive course in Venezuela for a couple of years, and we were talking one evening and he told me that his discovery of Wedgwood was akin to an astronomer finding a new planet. That intrigued me as he knew it would, and he set me off, with a twinkle in his eye, on that particular voyage of discovery.


Andrew Davies is RM Phillips Freeman Chair and Professor of Innovation Management at the Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex Business School. Previously he was Chair of the Management of Projects (established in honour of Peter Morris) at UCL. He is Adjunct Professor at BI Norwegian Business School, Visiting Professor at LUISS Rome and Honorary Professor at the Bartlett University College London. 

His research on project-based organisations and complex projects focuses on innovation, capabilities and coordination. He has published in a range of management journals such as Journal of Operations Management, Research Policy, Organization Studies, California Management Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, Industrial and Corporate Change, International Journal of Project Management, and Project Management Journal. His book Projects: A Very Short Introduction was awarded the Project Management Institute (PMI) 2018 David I. Cleland Literature Award for contribution to knowledge.

He is a Senior Editor of the Project Management Journal, member of the Editorial Advisory Board for International Journal of Project Management, and Associate Editor of Industrial and Corporate Change. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Association for Project Management (2021). 


Ammon Salter is a Professor of Technology and Innovation Management at Warwick Business School, University of Warwick. His research focuses on open and distributed models of innovation, R&D decision-making, social networks and innovation, and university-industry collaboration.

His research has been published widely, in journals such as Strategic Management Journal, Organization Science, Academy of Management Review, Administrative Science Quarterly, Academy of Management Journal, Research Policy, Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, and California Management Review. His research has been highly cited, receiving over 30k Google Citations, and received numerous awards, including Strategic Management Journal 2021 Dan and Mary Lou Schendel Best Paper Prize. He is a co-editor of Research Policy and an associate editor at Industrial and Corporate Change. 


Tim Kastelle is Professor and Director, Andrew N. Liveris Academy for Innovation and Leadership in the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology, in The University of Queensland. His research, teaching and engagement work are all based on his study of innovation management. He graduated from Princeton University with a degree in economics, and his MBA and PhD were completed at UQ. He has worked in marketing and management positions in a variety of industries including radio, office equipment, industrial chemicals, higher education and software, and these experiences inform both his research and his teaching. Tim has published widely in the leading innovation journals. He is deeply committed to translating research into practice. To this end, he writes a well-regarded innovation blog for managers (, and he has worked extensively with a wide range of organisations.


Marina Yue Zhang is an associate professor at the Australia-China Relations Institute, University of Technology Sydney (UTS: ACRI). Prior to this position, Marina worked for UNSW and Swinburn University in Australia and Tsinghua University in China. Marina holds a bachelor's degree in biological science from Peking University, an MBA, and a Ph.D. from Australian National University.

Marina is the author of three books, including "Demystifying China's Innovation Machine: Chaotic Order," co-authored with Mark Dodgson and David Gann (Oxford University Press, 2022). Marina has published in leading innovation and management journals, including Technological Forecasting & Social Change, Research Policy, Management & Organization Review, Asia Pacifica Journal of Management, and Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, among others.


Dilupa Nakandala Associate Dean, Graduate Studies, Dean's Unit, School of Business and Associate Professor of Management at Western Sydney University. Her research interests are in innovation and technology transfer management and supply chain management. Her research has been recognised by funding from the Australian Research Council, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia and Western Sydney University. She has published her research in top-tier journals, including Decision Support Systems, Knowledge-based Systems, European Journal of Operational Research, Supply Chain Management Journal, Int'l Journal of Production Research, and Int'l Journal of Technology Management. She has also published several book chapters and in practitioner journals and was the lead author of the 'South Asia' chapter of the UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030.


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