Tue, 18. Apr. 2023   Bree, Tim

Vacant master thesis seeks to investigate and assess how municipal enterprises’ innovation culture influences the effectiveness of digital innovation activity

Against the backdrop of climate change and digitalization, cities all over the world are facing the need for a radical transformation towards “smartness” (Gimpel et al., 2021). To meet the increasing amount of customer expectations that cities are facing, municipal enterprises – such as electricity suppliers or waste management services – are continuously working on modernizing their digital service offerings and business models (Hosseini et al., 2018; Mora et al., 2019). Sometimes those offerings represent the replacement of analog tasks with digital tasks, for example, online appointment scheduling or the application of IoT sensors to enhance processes or estimate waiting times[1]. Such novel digital services are often the result of digital innovation activities (Hjalmarsson & Rudmark, 2012). Those innovation activities may be internally and externally driven, and in light of the smart city context, the complexity of the innovation process is increasing (Hjalmarsson & Rudmark, 2012).

This is among the reasons why digital innovations are increasingly critical to the success of municipal enterprises. Yet, the municipal sector could be characterized as rather non-innovative and reluctant to change (Hawlitschek, 2021). While the need for digital innovation is widely acknowledged, implementing the right measures (e.g., competence building, structural adjustments, new processes, and new forms of collaboration) is still a challenge to municipal enterprises. Further, measuring innovativeness is a challenging task (Hinings et al., 2018; Van Looy, 2021).

All those challenges as well as the rapid environmental developments are creating a very demanding situation for municipal companies, which are often characterized by highly bureaucratic processes, a strict matrix organization, and using static workflow processes that remain unchanged possibly even for decades. To this end, research finds that the innovation culture significantly impacts the degree of organizations’ innovativeness (Dobni, 2008; Dodge et al., 2017). However, less attention has been devoted to grasp the influence of municipal enterprises’ innovation culture on (digital) innovativeness. To address those challenges, municipal enterprises may benefit from a systematic approach to evaluate their innovation culture’s maturity level as well as degree of digital innovativeness and compare their maturity level to similar organizations.

To address this issue, we are looking for an engaged student who will address this topic within the scope of a master thesis. First, the student is expected to conduct a profound literature review and gather relevant findings from academia and practice. Further, those findings are to be extended by conducting interviews with representatives from German municipal enterprises to define and uncover the nature and relationships of municipal enterprises’ innovation culture and digital innovativeness. Subsequently, the student is expected to develop a measurement instrument (i.e., survey) that later allows measuring municipal enterprises’ innovation culture, its maturity level as well as its impact on the effectiveness of digital innovation activity.

Students who are interested in this master thesis are asked to contact Mr. Tim Bree.



Dobni, C. B. (2008). Measuring innovation culture in organizations: The development of a generalized innovation culture construct using exploratory factor analysis. European journal of innovation management.

Dodge, R., Dwyer, J., Witzeman, S., Neylon, S., & Taylor, S. (2017). The Role of Leadership in Innovation: A quantitative analysis of a large data set examines the relationship between organizational culture, leadership behaviors, and innovativeness. Research-Technology Management, 60(3), 22-29.

Gimpel, H., Graf-Drasch, V., Hawlitschek, F., & Neumeier, K. (2021). Designing smart and sustainable irrigation: A case study. Journal of Cleaner Production, 315, 128048.

Hawlitschek, F. (2021). Interview with Benjamin Scheffler on “The future of waste management”. Business & Information Systems Engineering, 63(2), 207-211.

Hinings, B., Gegenhuber, T., & Greenwood, R. (2018). Digital innovation and transformation: An institutional perspective. Information and Organization, 28(1), 52-61.

Hjalmarsson, A., & Rudmark, D. (2012). Designing digital innovation contests. In International Conference on Design Science Research in Information Systems (pp. 9-27). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

Hosseini, S., Frank, L., Fridgen, G., & Heger, S. (2018). Do not forget about smart towns. Business & Information Systems Engineering, 60(3), 243-257.

Mora, L., Deakin, M., & Reid, A. (2019). Strategic principles for smart city development: A multiple case study analysis of European best practices. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 142, 70-97.

Van Looy, A. (2021). A quantitative and qualitative study of the link between business process management and digital innovation. Information & Management, 58(2), 103413.

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