PhD vacancy: Critical innovation systems (V39.3636)

PhD vacancy: Critical innovation systems

PhD vacancy: Critical innovation systems A system theoretical approach of critical expertise applied to the case of deep geothermal energy The TU/e is looking for a PhD candidate¿with a background/affinity with innovation and philosophy¿interested in researching Critical Innovation Systems.
Faculteit Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences


Eindhoven University of Technology is one of the world’s leading research universities (ranked by the Times Higher Education Supplement) and is particularly well known for its joint research with industry (ranked number one worldwide by the Centre for Science and Technology Studies). The Department of Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences (IE&IS) of Eindhoven University of Technology is one of the longest-established engineering schools in Europe, with a strong presence in the international research and education community, especially in the field of Operational Processes, Innovation Management & Technology Entrepreneurship, which are at the core of the undergraduate BSc program. The graduate programs (MSc and PhD) in Operations Management and Innovation Management attract top-level students from all over the world. Researchers are member of the Beta research school.

The PhD candidate will be located in the Innovation, Technology Entrepreneurship & Marketing (ITEM) group. The group is part of the School of Industrial Engineering of the department IE&IS. The ITEM group consists of about 25 FTE faculty members and 20 FTE PhD’s who participate in and contribute to the research, education and service program of the ITEM group. This program is one of the leading programs in the world and emphasizes means for measuring and improving the process of conceiving, developing, and launching new products and businesses, and also managing these products and businesses post-launch. More information about the group can be found at:

As the PhD project draws heavily on systems philosophy and the philosophy of science, the PhD candidate will also collaborate intensively with the Philosophy and Ethics (P&E) group of the Eindhoven University of Technology. The P&E group conducts research at the intersection of philosophy, technology, and innovation.

Short description of the PhD Project
Feedback-based learning, through trial and error, has long been considered an important antecedent for innovation. In societally and ecologically sensitive areas, such as geothermal energy systems, however, there is less room for this mode of learning for innovation because of the high risk and a long geological timeframe (consequences for 50-100.000 years). To date, organizing innovation, especially open co-created innovation, in such settings has proven challenging, yet has received little scholarly attention. We hence raise the question: how to organize for co-creative innovation in the context of highly sensitive and impactful systems—that is, in critical innovation systems (CIS).

First, the candidate is expected to develop a CIS theory. We intend to combine applied systems philosophy (Leydesdorff, 2010; Seidl, 2007) with recent advances on ecosystem theory (Adner, 2017; Jacobides et al., 2018) to coin CIS. We aim to create a better understanding on what its system properties are—how these come into being, evolve and are maintained. This serves to position CIS as a distinct type of ecosystem and to better understand its (interacting) system properties such as robustness, openness, and homeostasis/antifragility (e.g., Luhmann, 2002; Parson, 1951). Openness and antifragility, from a policy perspective, are often assumed to be conflicting, while systems philosophy teaches us otherwise (Anderson et al., 1998). Such understanding, by drawing from systems philosophy in particular, is critical to truly understand (and potentially inform) CIS. In doing so, we question earlier literature on the modes of learning and innovation suitable to ecosystems, as well as put into new light ‘traditional’ ecosystem challenges (Baldwin, 2008; Cennamo et al., 2018; Parker & Van Alstyne 2005).

Second, the candidate is expected to study alternative modes of learning for innovation in CIS (Limoges, 1993; Anderson etal., 1998). By drawing from the philosophy of science and technology, we want to elaborate on the role of counter-expertise for learning and innovation in CIS. More specifically, considering that in CIS often only one partner performs a particular part of technological research (e.g., think of Shell in CCS in Barendrecht, but also about nuclear waste repositories or deep geothermal energy production), we turn to the question of falsification (Popper, 1962) and discuss why and how learning and innovation can be enabled in CIS. The aim is to engage in a multiple case study on deep geothermal energy innovation systems, in the Netherlands and neighboring countries, focusing on how learning as a critical innovation function is (not) organized. Furthermore, by developing a deep contextual understanding, we anticipate to develop potential pathways to re-organize inter-organizational innovation—and associated co-creation links between scientific expertise, political decision-making and end-user’s design evaluations—in CIS.

Finally, the candidate is expected to combine the insights gained by the first two studies by developing and calibrating a system dynamics based ‘microworld’ (Sterman, 2000) for decision-making in CIS, such as the deep geothermal energy systems. A microworld, also known as a ‘flight simulator’ involves a formal model that serves as a research and design environment for sustainable development. As such, we will involve and provide a tool to policy, entrepreneurial management and public-citizen level, allowing stakeholders to engage in model-aided thought experiments in the CIS context.

Job description
You, as a successful applicant, will perform the research project outlined above in an international team. The research will be concluded with a PhD thesis. A small teaching load is part of the job.


  • You have a Master’s degree innovation/management/organization sciences and a strong affinity with philosophy & ethics—or vice versa.
  • You have a strong affinity with interdisciplinary research, as well as collaboration with industry. Part of the PhD project will be to obtain funds through industry collaboration and/or EU projects.
  • Strong analytical skills, demonstrated competences for modeling and/or qualitative research.
  • Potential and ambition to become a high-level innovation scholar.
  • You are able to work on a highly challenging topic that has both basic and applied research aspects.
  • Your communication skills are excellent as is your proficiency in English and your ability to collaborate in a complex setting


  • A challenging job in a dynamic and ambitious university.
  • A PhD appointment for a period of 4 years.
  • Gross monthly salary is €2.325,- in the first year up to €2.972,- (gross) in the fourth year on a full-time basis.
  • A yearly holiday allowance of 8% and 8.3% end of year allowance.
  • A broad package of fringe benefits (including an excellent technical infrastructure, moving expenses, savings schemes, coverage of costs of publishing the dissertation and excellent sports facilities).

Informatie en sollicitatie

Your application must contain the following documents (all in English):

  • Cover letter (2 page max), which includes a motivation of your interest in the vacancy and an explanation of why you would fit well for the project.
  • Detailed curriculum vitae.
  • List of courses you have taken in Masters and Bachelor programs (including grades).
  • Results of a recent English language test, or other evidence of your English language capabilities (TOEFL, IELTS, etc.).
  • Journal and/or conference papers (if any).
  • A copy of your MSc thesis (if you have already received your degree).
  • Name and contact information of two references.

Additional Information
More information: please contact Bob Walrave (

Information about terms of employment can be obtained from Susan Opgenoorth, personnel officer ( Further information about the Eindhoven University of Technology can be found at

The deadline for applications is 3 February 2019. We do not accept applications sent by e-mail. You can only upload a maximum of 5 documents of 2 Mb each. If you have more than 5 documents, you will need to combine them.

If you are interested, we invite you to apply as soon as possible. Selection will begin immediately and continue until the position has been filled.

To apply please use the "apply now" button.