Robotdalen - a Swedish robotics initiative with the goal to enable commercial success of new ideas and research - can be defined as a small entrepreneurial hybrid organization that includes private and public organizations. Almost a decade after its creation, Robotdalen is facing new challenges such as the need to balance between the entrepreneurial features that hitherto characterized the organization and the increasingly established and structured governance work practices, routines and procedures. Trying to create this balance has been found, both in research and in practice, to be a major challenge and there has been several calls for research (Ireland & Webb 2007; Kuratko & Audresch 2009; Schindehutte & Morris 2009; Kyrgidou & Huges 2010; Luke et al. 2011; Foss & Lyngsie 2012). There is also a lack of empirical contributions and studies on public organizations in a context of governance, entrepreneurship and strategic matters (Klein 2013).
In this paper we ask: How is Robotdalen governed in order to on the one hand create order, structure, predictability and sustainability, while on the other find their own innovative solutions to problems that cannot be standardized or predicted? In this context the governance function of the board becomes important both as the maintainer of what is working in the organization, but also as a developer that renews the organization for future challenges. Therefore, we intend to highlight the performance of governance structures, which so far have been understudied in previous research (Minichilli 2009). There has also been a call for further research on boards in a setting of small organizations (c.f. Minichilli & Hansen 2007; Huse 2008). We intend to meet this call by contributing to the theoretical field of entrepreneurship in established organizations and the field of management governance, i.e. how the board of directors enables, develops and sustains the entrepreneurial spirit an in an inter-organizational relationship (IOR) setting.
The findings show the importance to review the composition, role and function of the board when it comes to govern an IOR. Thus, acting in a complex setting of both private and public actors not only poses challenges of monitoring different stakes and interests (cf. Holmgren Caicedo & Mårtensson 2012), but also differences in strategic goals and views on value e.g. public actors put forth values of democracy and accountability, while private actors emphasized values of growth and profitability. In order to achieve this Robotdalen had to take some innovative and entrepreneurial actions in regards to the board’s composition, role and function.
To sum it up, in line with suggested research our paper aims to understand governance mechanisms, i.e. structures and processes designed at reconciling the interest of different stakeholders within a board of directors and their governance of IORs. In this sense we relate to the topic of board and organizational outcomes as performance and innovation.
2014. 1-28 p.
IRSPM XVIII Eighteenth Annual Conference of the International Research Society for Public Management (IRSPM), April 9-11, Ottawa, Canada