MY RESEARCH FOCUS
My focus areas
Importantly, evolution is not to be misunderstood as merely synonymous to change or even “progress”. By evolution, I explicitly refer to a perspective on change that takes analogies and similarities between evolutionary processes in biology, culture, and economy seriously. One prominent strand of research I draw on here is called memetics or meme theory. Memetics is a perspective that, in the style of genetics, assumes that both cultural units of information – memes – and biological units of information – genes and viruses – are subject to similar processes of variation, selection, and retention or transmission. One of the advantages of this perspective – as I’ve expounded in my book “Memetics and Evolutionary Economics” – is a reciprocal, interdisciplinary gain and transfer of knowledge between economics, social sciences, and life sciences. Even if this may sound like a topic mostly for philosophers of science, the still highly dynamic COVID-19 pandemic and the connected complexity and uncertainty of economic and political decisions shows: It is of paramount importance to adequately approach complexity, uncertainty, and cultural evolution – not just for “those scientists” but especially for leaders and decision makers and the design of sustainable business models. As a last consequence, this also leads me to the question: How should sustainable education and training look like to empower individuals, teams, and organizations to deal appropriately with dynamics, complexity, and uncertainty?
Innovation processes affect different levels of our economic systems. Just think about new possibilities to satisfy one’s individual needs through new consumer goods or, on a collective level, the joint creation, diffusion, and use of new knowledge and capabilities. Such innovation processes are shaped by multiple different actors, organizations, and circumstances – including research institutes and higher education institutions, startups, firms, and the respective political and cultural institutions, norms, and regulations.
Such innovation systems (or alternatively, depending on the branch of research, innovation ecosystems) may encompass branches of industries, sectors, regional clusters, or even whole nations and supra-national institutions. When we are talking about innovation, we usually tend to think about new technologies, products, or manufacturing processes in industries. However, innovation is much more than that and comprises also social innovation, institutional reformation, or even system innovations that may or may not help us humans to advance. We may also use the term (structural) transformations when we are talking about economic reorganization or the reorientation of our modes of production and consumption towards new economic systems like a bio-based or circular economy. Crises such as pandemics or wars can also influence transformations. On these grounds, I address the question how and by whom these complex processes of innovation and transformation, which involve many different stakeholders, can be influenced or governed. Hence, depending on the level of observation and the research question, in this research area I am concerned with issues like design, entrepreneurship, management, leadership, or governance. I am also drawing on complexity science and evolutionary theory, here, as innovations and transformations usually do not happen at the push of a button by ingenious and inventive individuals. In fact, these novelties rather emerge in innovation (eco)systems via collective and often path dependent processes of learning and coevolutionary relationships.
I approach these issues through conceptual and empirical studies of agency and moral or prosocial decisions in complex systems. Particularly as a cross-cutting issue with both of my other research areas, I am striving to raise awareness for the fact that not all kinds of innovation are per se desirable – at least from an evolutionary perspective most mutations are anything but desirable. From my point of view, Responsible Research and Innovation and, thus, research on the normative dimension of innovation (eco)systems becomes increasingly relevant.
Bogner, K., Schlaile, M.P., & Urmetzer, S. (2023). Transformation by design or by disaster – Why we need more transformative research now. LSE Impact Blog, 31.01.2023: https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2023/01/31/transformation-by-design-or-by-disaster-why-we-need-more-transformative-research-now/
Books and book chapters
Schlaile, M.P., Veit, W., & Boudry, M. (2023). Memes. In K. Dopfer, R.R. Nelson, J. Potts, & A. Pyka (Hrsg.), Routledge handbook of evolutionary economics (pp. 235-248). London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429398971-20
Lang, S., Minnucci, G., Mueller, M., & Schlaile, M.P. (2023). The role of consumers in business model innovations for a sustainable circular bioeconomy. Sustainability, 15(12), 9573. https://doi.org/10.3390/su15129573
Onyeali, W., Schlaile, M.P., & Winkler, B. (2023). Navigating the biocosmos: Cornerstones of a bioeconomic utopia. Land, 12(6), 1212. https://doi.org/10.3390/land12061212
Zabel, S., Schlaile, M.P., & Otto, S. (2023). Breaking the chain with individual gain? Investigating the moral intensity of COVID-19 digital contact tracing. Computers in Human Behavior, 143, 107699. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2023.107699
Books and book chapters
Schlaile, M.P., & Stöber, L.F. (Eds.) (2022). Consumer Social Responsibility im digitalen Raum: Entscheidungsarchitekturen, geteilte Verantwortung und Handlungsspielräume. Marburg: Metropolis. https://www.metropolis-verlag.de/Consumer-Social-Responsibility-im-digitalen-Raum/1524/book.do
Urmetzer, S., Schlaile, M.P., Blok, V., & Pyka, A. (2022). Quo vadis, bioeconomy? The necessity of normative considerations in the transition. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10806-021-09875-y
Schlaile, M.P., Kask, J., Bogner, K., Urmetzer, S., de Witt, A., & Brewer, J. (2022). Proposing a cultural evolutionary perspective for dedicated innovation systems: Bioeconomy transitions and beyond. Journal of Innovation Economics & Management, 38, 93-118. https://doi.org/10.3917/jie.pr1.0108
Books and book chapters
Schlaile, M.P. (Ed.) (2021). Memetics and evolutionary economics: To boldly go where no meme has gone before. Cham: Springer. https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783030599546
Schlaile, M.P. & Urmetzer, S. (2021). Transitions to sustainable development. In W. Leal Filho et al. (Eds.), Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Decent work and economic growth (pp. 1067-1081). Cham: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-71058-7_52-1
Breslin, D., Kask, J., Schlaile, M., & Abatecola, G. (2021). Developing a coevolutionary account of innovation ecosystems. Industrial Marketing Management, 98, 59-68. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.indmarman.2021.07.016.
Dahlke, J., Bogner, K., Becker, M., Schlaile, M.P., Pyka, A., & Ebersberger, B. (2021). Crisis-Driven Innovation and Fundamental Human Needs: A Typological Framework of Rapid-Response COVID-19 Innovations. Technological Foreca & Social Change, 169, 120799. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2021.120799
Schlaile, M.P., Bogner, K., & Muelder, L. (2021). It’s more than complicated: Using organizational memetics to capture the complexity of organizational culture. Journal of Business Research, 129, 801-812. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2019.09.035.
Schlaile, M.P., Urmetzer, S., Ehrenberger, M.B., & Brewer, J. (2021). Systems entrepreneurship: A conceptual substantiation of a novel entrepreneurial “species”. Sustainability Science, 16, 781-794. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-020-00850-6
Wilke, U., Schlaile, M.P., Urmetzer, S., Mueller, M., & Pyka, A. (2021). Time to say ‘good buy’ to the passive consumer? A conceptual review of the consumer in the bioeconomy. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 34, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10806-021-09861-4.
Books and book chapters
Schlaile, M.P., Klein, K., & Böck, W. (2020). Konsumentenverantwortung. Konzeptualisierungsversuche vor dem Hintergrund einer „bounded morality“. In L. Heidbrink & S. Müller (Ed.), Consumer Social Responsibility: Zur gesellschaftlichen Verantwortung von Konsumenten (S. 71-90). Marburg: Metropolis.
Urmetzer, S., Schlaile, M.P., Bogner, K.B., Müller, M., & Pyka, A. (2020). Wissen für den Wandel – wissenstheoretische Grundlagen einer nachhaltigen Bioökonomiepolitik. In D. Scheer, W. Konrad, & A. Weidtmann (Ed.), Bioökonomie nachhaltig gestalten (S. 73-105). Wiesbaden: Springer.
Bogner, K., Müller, M., Pyka, A., Schlaile, M.P., & Urmetzer, S. (2020). Warum wir nicht einfach zum ‚Normalzustand‘ zurückkehren können: 5 Appelle für eine nachhaltigere Wirtschaft nach der Krise. Innov8-Now!, 07.05.2020: https://www.innov8-now.org/2020/05/07/warum-wir-nicht-einfach-zum-normalzustand-zurueckkehren-koennen/.
Bogner, K., Mueller, M., Pyka, A., Schlaile, M.P., & Urmetzer, S. (2020). Why we can’t go back to ’normal‘: 5 appeals for a sustainable post-pandemic economy. LSE Business Review, 29.04.2020: https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/businessreview/2020/04/29/why-we-cant-go-back-to-normal-5-appeals-for-a-sustainable-post-pandemic-economy/.
Urmetzer, S., Pyka, A., Schlaile, M.P., Bogner, K., & Müller, M. (2020). Vom Hasen und dem Igel 2.0: Eine kleine Geschichte vom Hasen und dem Igel und ihrem Umgang mit Krisen. Innov8-Now!, 17.05.2020: https://www.innov8-now.org/2020/05/17/vom-hase-und-dem-igel-2-0/.
Bogner, K., Müller, M., & Schlaile, M.P. (2018). Knowledge diffusion in formal networks: the roles of degree distribution and cognitive distance. International Journal of Computational Economics and Econometrics, 8(3-4), 388-407. https://doi.org/10.1504/IJCEE.2018.096365.
Schlaile, M.P., Klein, K., & Böck, W. (2018). From bounded morality to consumer social responsibility: A transdisciplinary approach to socially responsible consumption and its obstacles. Journal of Business Ethics, 149(3), 561-588. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-016-3096-8.
Schlaile, M.P., Knausberg, T., Mueller, M., & Zeman, J. (2018). Viral ice buckets: A memetic perspective on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge’s diffusion. Cognitive Systems Research, 52, 947-969. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cogsys.2018.09.012.
Schlaile, M.P., Mueller, M., Schramm, M., & Pyka, A. (2018). Evolutionary economics, responsible innovation and demand: Making a case for the role of consumers. Philosophy of Management, 17(1), 7-39. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40926-017-0054-1
Schlaile, M.P., Zeman, J., & Mueller, M. (2018). It’s a match: Simulating compatibility-based learning in a network of networks. Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 28(5), 1111-1150. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00191-018-0579-z.
Urmetzer, S., Schlaile, M.P., Bogner, K.B., Mueller, M., & Pyka, A. (2018). Exploring the dedicated knowledge base of a transformation towards a sustainable bioeconomy. Sustainability, 10(6), 1694. https://doi.org/10.3390/su10061694.
Schlaile, M.P., Urmetzer, S., Blok, V., Andersen, A.D., Timmermans, J., Mueller, M., Fagerberg, J., & Pyka, A. (2017). Innovation systems for transformations towards sustainability? Taking the normative dimension seriously. Sustainability, 9(12), 2253. https://doi.org/10.3390/su9122253.
Schlaile, M.P., Mueller, M., Schramm, M., & Pyka, A. (2017). Time to acknowledge the role of consumers in responsible innovation. LSE Business Review, 13.06.2017: https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/businessreview/2017/06/13/time-to-acknowledge-the-role-of-consumers-in-responsible-innovation/.
Books and book chapters
Schlaile, M.P. & Ehrenberger, M. (2016). Complexity, cultural evolution, and the discovery and creation of (social) entrepreneurial opportunities: Exploring a memetic approach. In E.S.C. Berger & A. Kuckertz (Ed.), Complexity in Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Technology Research (pp. 63-92), Cham: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-27108-8_4
Coming soon ...
Schlaile, M.P., Hector, V., Dahlke, J., Peters, L., Hilt, A., & Graupe, S. (2023). Crisis-driven economic change: Insights into innovation, fundamental human needs, and sensemaking during the COVID-19 pandemic. In I. Henzler, H. Hues, S. Sonnleitner, & U. Wilkens (Hrsg.), Extended views. Köln / Wien: Böhlau (im Erscheinen / in press). Preprint: Link
Schlaile, M.P., Herwix, A., Bogner, K., & Atkins, P.W.B. (2023). An evolutionary perspective on corporate sustainability transitions: A prosocial approach. In D. MacKie (Hrsg.), The handbook of climate change leadership in organisations: Developing leadership for the age of sustainability. London: Routledge.
AVWL 2: Wirtschaftsdynamik und Innovation (economic dynamics and innovation): Lecture, University of Hohenheim, summer terms 2019, 2020.
Basics of Innovation Economics: Lecture and tutorial, University of Hohenheim, summer terms 2017, 2018; winter term 2019/2020.
Economics of Innovation (Bachelor): Seminar, University of Hohenheim, winter term 2017/2018.
Einführung in das wissenschaftliche Arbeiten (introduction to research methods): Lecture and tutorial, Turkish-German University in Istanbul, summer terms 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022.
Einführung in die Volkswirtschaftslehre Teil 1 (introductory economics 101): Lecture and tutorial, Turkish-German University in Istanbul, winter term 2018/2019.
Einführung in die Volkswirtschaftslehre Teil 2 (introductory economics 102): Lecture and tutorial, Turkish-German University in Istanbul, summer term 2019
Europäische Wirtschaft und Politik (European economy and policy): Seminar, University of Hohenheim, winter terms 2016/2017, 2017/2018, 2018/2019; summer term 2018
Financial Systems, Financial Markets, and Financial Crisis: module of an international summer school at the University of Hohenheim, summer term 2013.
Innovationsökonomik (innovation economics): Seminar, University of Hohenheim, winter terms 2016/2017, 2017/2018, 2018/2019.
Regionale Innovationssysteme und Innovationspolitik (regional innovation systems and innovation policy): Seminar, University of Hohenheim, summer term 2019.
Bioeconomy Discourses: Lecture, Universiy of Hohenheim, winter terms 2018/2019, 2019/2020, 2020/2021.
Economic Aspects of the Bioeconomy: Lecture, University of Hohenheim, summer term 2018.
Economics of Innovation (Master): Seminar, University of Hohenheim, winter terms 2016/2017, 2018/2019, 2020/2021; summer term 2017.
Industrial Dynamics and Evolution: Seminar, University of Insubria in Varese, summer terms 2020, 2021, 2022.
Innovation Economics I: Theory and Empirics:Lecture and tutorial, University of Hohenheim, winter term 2017/2018
Innovation Economics II: Recent Developments in Advanced Innovation Economics: Lecture and tutorial, University of Hohenheim, summer terms 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021.
Management & Marketing Ethics: Seminar, University of Hohenheim: winter term 2013/2014.
Ökonomische Moralkulturen (economic moral cultures): Lecture and tutorial, University of Hohenheim, winter term 2014/2015.
TRANSFER & OUTREACH
Conceptualization, production, moderation, and editorial support of the Futur1 podcast on the relationships between innovation, sustainability, social responsibility, and societal transformation: https://soundcloud.com/futur1.
Concepts of Sustainable Bioeconomy MOOC
Co-development of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) for the Iversity platform on Concepts of Sustainable Bioeconomy” ; responsible for organizing “Chapter 3: Normative Dimensions of the Bioeconomy” and developing several (sub)units
I‘m a trained Prosocial Facilitator (Prosocial.World) and I use the Prosocial ARC Process and its tools also in consultancy and coaching.
r3.0 Educational Transformation Blueprint
Member of the Working Group for the r3.0 Blueprint 9: Educational Transformation: https://www.r3-0.org/blueprint-9-et/
Work, Digitalization, and Sustainability
I’m an active member of the interdisciplinary research program Work, Digitalization, and Sustainability (WDS) at the University of Hohenheim and especially its early career researcher cluster focusing on sustainability.
August 2023: “Who defines what is ‚just‘? Towards a pluralistic perspective on normativity in transformative research” International Sustainability Transitions Conference 2023, Utrecht.
July 2023: “Who defines what is just? Towards a pluralistic perspective on normativity” EADI CEsA Conference 2023, Lisbon (hybrid event).
June 2023: “Who defines what is just? Towards an integrative perspective on justice and responsible innovation in the bioeconomy transition” NEST Conference, Dresden.
June 2023: “Developing adequate innovation policy heuristics for addressing grand societal challenges: Making sense of wickedness” EURAM Annual Conference, Dublin.
January 2023: (invited talk/keynote): “Directionality and intention in dedicated / mission-oriented innovation systems A note of caution about dealing with complex systems and “wicked problems” Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Transformative Workshop: “Mission Possible: Accelerating research and innovation impact through mission orientation” (virtual talk/keynote).
December 2022: “Co-design and legitimacy of transformative research” Advancing Transformative Research Workshop at AIT, Vienna (invited talk).
December 2022: “Changing the foundations of economic thought in the midst of crisis: How economic actors create new imagined futures for sustainable economies” Forum Corona Crisis and Beyond, Volkswagen Foundation, Hanover (invited talk).
October 2022: “A short reflection on wicked problems and the need for adequate ‘policy sensemaking’”. INTRANSIT Workshop, Utrecht
September 2022: “Changing the foundations of economic thought in the midst of crisis: Insights from a SenseMaker® study among economic decision makers in Germany” Cynefin meetup (invited, virtual talk)
June 2022: “From linear policy to tackling wicked problems: A methodological reflection on the implications of the normative turn”. Eu-SPRI 2022, Utrecht
June 2022: „Sensemaking in times of the pandemic: A SenseMaker® survey among German decision makers to unveil narratives of change during summer 2021” und ““Prosocial: An Introduction“ als Teil des Symposiums: „Prosocial: an evolutionary and transformative approach for management science and practice?”. EURAM Annual Conference, Winterthur
May 2022 (invented workshop): “Leveraging NEST to design new impact pathways”. 7th NEST Conference, Lyon.
April 2022 (invited talk): "Memetics: New achievements and persisting challenges" as part of the joint research seminar by Cusanus Hochschule für Gesellschaftsgestaltung and Palacký University Olomouc (virtual talk).
January 2022: “Crisis-driven economic change: Insights into innovation, basic needs, and sensemaking during the COVID-19 pandemic”. Wissenschaftliche Abschlusskonferenz ‚Sonderförderung von wirtschafts- und sozialwissenschaftlicher Forschung zu Themen der Covid-19 Pandemie der Dr. Hans Riegel-Stiftung‘ (virtual congress).
November 2021 (own conference): „Consumer Social Responsibility im digitalen Raum: Entscheidungsarchitekturen, geteilte Verantwortung und Handlungsspielräume“. Welcome address and introductory talk (own online congress funded by BMJV).
October 2021: “Sensemaking for sustainability? Evidence from the ‘New Imaginative Economies’ project”. 6th EAEPE RA[X] Workshop, Volos, Greece.
September 2021 (invited talk): “Educational Transformation and the cultural evolution of a prosocial world”. 8th International r3.0 Conference 2021 (virtual congress).
September 2021 (invited keynote): “The cultural evolution of a sustainable bioeconomy: A note on cognition, contestation, complexity, and cooperation“. ZALF PhD Day 2021, Leibniz-Zentrum für Agrarlandschaftsforschung, Müncheberg (virtual talk).
July 2021 (invited talk): „New Imaginative Economies: Empirische Untersuchung ökonomischer Entscheidungsprozesse im Kontext der Covid-19 Pandemie“. Symposium „Narrative des Wandels – Praktiken und Perspektiven neuer Institutions- und Gesellschaftsgestaltung“, Cusanus Hochschule für Gesellschaftsgestaltung, Bernkastel-Kues (virtual symposium).
July 2021: „Appreciating uncertainty: Laboratories for co-creating dedicated knowledge in innovation systems“, 18th International Schumpeter Society Conference, Rom (virtual congress)
June 2021 (invited talk): “Systems Entrepreneurship: Alles eine Frage des Hebels”, Responsible Innovation Day, virutal congress, organized by Tripl3Leader GmbH and the Innovation Greenhouse at the University of Hohenheim
June 2021: “A cultural evolutionary research agenda for innovation systems dedicated to a sustainable bioeconomy”, EURAM Annual Conference, Montreal (virtual congress)
Dezember 2020: "A comment on the role of incumbents in sustainability transitions: Why we need a complex systems perspective", EURAM-Jahreskonferenz, Dublin (virtueller lecture)
September 2020: “On the cultural evolution of a sustainable bioeconomy”, 3rd International Bioeconomy Congress Baden-Württemberg, Stuttgart (virtual congress)
June 2020 (invited talk): 'Memetics and evolutionary economics: why we should take meme theory more seriously', online research seminar organized by the University of Insubria, Department of Economics.
September 2019: “Responsible consumption in dedicated bioeconomies”, Workshop on the Normative Dimension of Transformations towards a Sustainable Bioeconomy, Stuttgart.
June 2019: “Systems Entrepreneurship – A Conceptual Substantiation of a Novel Entrepreneurial "Species"”, EURAM Annual Conference, Lisbon.
May 2019 (invited talk): „Konsumentenverantwortung – welche Konsumentenverantwortung? Konzeptualisierungsversuche vor dem Hintergrund einer "bounded morality"“, Workshop Consumer Social Responsibility, Kiel.
February 2019: “Change Agents or Drops in the Ocean? On the Systemic Role of Transformative Entrepreneurs in Dedicated Innovation Systems”, Leverage Points 2019 International Conference, Lüneburg.
November 2018 (invited talk): “Cultural Evolution, Imitation, and Economics: Some Remarks on the (F)utility of ‘Memes’”, Department of Economics Seminars of the Turkish-German University, Beykoz (Istanbul).
August 2018 (invited talk): “Dedicated Innovation Systems: Tackling Wicked Problems by Taking the Normative Dimension of Sustainability Seriously”, 1st Managing Planetary Collapse Conference and Summer School, August 3-5, 2018, Eugene, Oregon.
July 2018: „“Developing the Transformative Potential of Innovation Systems: An Exploration into Relevant Knowledge for Sustainability”, 17th International Schumpeter Society Conference, Seoul.
June 2018 „A Case for Economemetics? Why Evolutionary Economists Should Re‑evaluate the (F)utility of Memetics“, EURAM Annual Conference, Reykjavik.
January 2018: “A Case for (Econo-)Memetics: Why We Should Not Throw the Baby Out with the Bathwater”; The Generalized Theory of Evolution Conference, Düsseldorf.
October 2017: “Innovation Systems for Transformations towards Sustainability? A Normatively Infused Reflection”, 15th Globelics International Conference, Athens.
June 2017: “Viral Ice Buckets: A Memetic Perspective on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge’s Diffusion”, EURAM Annual Conference, Glasgow.
May/June 2017: “Dedicated Innovation Systems (DIS) for Governing and Accelerating Global Transformations to Sustainability”, 10th EMAEE, Strasbourg.
August 2016: “Exploring the Potential of Organizational Memetics: A Review and Case Example”, AOM Annual Meeting, Anaheim, CA.
July 2016: “Evolutionary Economics, Responsible Innovation and Demand: Making a Case for the Role of Consumers”, Philosophy of Management Conference, Oxford.
July 2016: “Knowledge Compatibility in a Network of Networks: An Agent-based Simulation Model of Knowledge Diffusion and Assimilation in Innovation Networks”, 16th International Schumpeter Society Conference, Montreal.
June 2016: “Organizational Culture: What Does It ‘Meme’? Lessons from Organizational Memetics”, EURAM Annual Conference, Paris.
June 2015: “Cultural Evolution and the Awareness of Social Entrepreneurial Opportunities: A Memetic Approach”, EURAM Annual Conference, Warsaw.
November 2014: “Social Entrepreneurship and the Perception of Opportunities for Responsible Innovation”, 18th Annual Interdisciplinary Entrepreneurship Conference, G Forum 2014, Oldenburg
June 2014: “From Bounded Morality to Consumer Social Responsibility: Toward a Transdisciplinary Framework of Socially Responsible Consumption”, EBEN Annual Conference, Berlin.
November 2013: “The Evolution of (Im-)Morality in Financial Markets: Genese und Semantik von Finanzmärkten aus Sicht einer evolutionären Wirtschaftsethik”, 2. Work-shop zur Wirtschaftsethik der Görres-Gesellschaft, Augsburg.
September 2013: “A More Evolutionary Approach to Economics: The Homo Sapiens Oeconomicus and the Utility Maximizing Meme”, 11th Globelics International Conference, Ankara.