The challenge of change and innovation in news organizations
The Centre for Business and Social Innovation and School of Communication invites you to a research seminar with visiting guests Gudrun R. Skjælaaen and Dr Arne L. Bygdås.
For a majority of industries established pre-digital, a major challenge continues to be how to make a successful transition into the new digital reality. Many newspapers worldwide experience the digital environment as distinctly challengeable, even though they have been publishing online news for more than 20 years. In most newspapers’ preferred solutions to the issues that doing digital presents the development and implementation of new technology is highly fetishized in the industry. We suggest that there is much more to successful strategies for transition and change than merely technology alone and will illustrate this through two cases from the ongoing action research project OMEN.
The first case concerns restructuring the workflow for producing news from a tight and narrow deadline work schedule from the paper mode of production to a more loosely structured and open-ended work flow (“flowline”) for a digital production mode. It investigates the puzzle of why this shift is so hard to accomplish in practice, even though everyone agrees it is feasible and desirable. Our research approach builds on generative metaphors and how they can be used in organizational change processes and function as temporal and provisional constructs for lowering thresholds and enabling transformative change. The second case explores ways of managing organizational change precisely by introducing new technology. The point of departure is a niche newspaper’s project of developing an integrated production system for seamless publishing of print and online news. Initial attempts at forcing designed solutions on the newsroom to make it ‘digital first’ did not work out as intended. Over time, we observed a gradual shift in the managerial approach from applying technology in order to impose precepts and routines to instead using it as support for developing employees’ crafts and skills enabling them to achieve promising results.
The cases are excerpts from two chapters in the forthcoming anthology published by Routledge: Bygdås, Clegg & Hagen (Eds.) (2019) Media Management and Digital Transformation.
Gudrun R. Skjælaaen is Researcher at the Work Research Institute at Oslo Metropolitan University. Her research includes idea work and work engagement, material culture and digital technology. She holds a MA in Visual Anthropology from Goldsmiths College, London, and is currently conducting her PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo, Norway.
Dr Arne L. Bygdås is Senior Researcher at the Work Research Institute at Oslo Metropolitan University. His research interests include knowing and learning in organizations, organizational creativity and innovation, practice-based research, and organizational becoming. He holds a PhD in Strategy and Management from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.