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Digital Cooperation in young, innovative Enterprises: Orientation Knowledge for young Enterprises and Implications for the established

Jonathan S. Denner nwebs GbR Karlsruhe, Germany

IT tools to support or enable different types of team cooperation enjoy great distribution. In particular, tools from the field of social software are increasingly being used by companies and teams. In this paper a research project is motivated, which will examine the cooperation context and the tool set of young, innovative companies. The results will give an outlook on what requirements and expectations of employees will provide a working- and tool-landscape in the coming years. In addition, the research orientation is to aggregate knowledge for decision makers in young, innovative companies for the design of digital collaboration.
Author Keywords

communication medium as well as through information or knowledge processing in this sector (Four-sector-model, Schober, 2001). In addition the internet has lowered the transaction costs for distributed work organisation and collaborative work environments. Successful cases from the past decade e.g. Google, Facebook and Twitter, some of which came up in proverbial garages or students hostels, are good examples to this. Those above described Internet Start-ups can be characterised and delimited by Wei (2010) followed Schneider (1991) with two attributes in mind young and innovative regarding the young form of organisation, for instance human beings, technology, buildings and infrastructure (Schneider 1991, pg. 352) and for another thing, with respect to the output, for example innovative products or knowledge intensive services. Besides the innovative products and services affiliated to these companies, the innovative patterns in the organisation and context design of the digital collaboration are also open to speculation.3 These enterprises, just like all the others, are faced with the challenge of efficiently and effectively coming up with a knowledge-intensive cooperation. 4They have because of their lack of previous organizational structures and flat hierarchies a special condition to responding the challenges, which is summarized by the citation of F. Druckers (1909-2005): The most important und real exceptional contribution of the management in the 20th century is the fifty times increment in the industrial workers productivity. To enhance the knowledge work productivity and the productivity of the knowledge worker in the same manner is the only contribution expected from the management in the 21st century.

Collaboration, Social Software, start-ups


In the same way Lars Hinrichs1 said that in their industry (Internet Start-ups) was to be expected by many, we a) dont want to place any obstacles on the way and b) at the same time want to ensure that the set conditions enable developments in the internet and start up scene. (Citation from Federal Chancellor Merkels speech on receipt of the Internet & Start-ups in Germany on 7th March 20132). The political attention is increasingly being directed to the Internet Start-ups. An important political and social stand is attributed to them. The creation of young and innovative enterprises is a key factor for the growth of the national economy (cf. Kollman, 2009 pg.1 to Ziegler 2013 pg.1). In comparison to the established organisations, newly founded enterprises manage to rapidly translate their creative ideas into various innovations (Wirtz, 2010, pg. 74 to Ziegler 2013, pg. 1). 100 years ago young entrepreneurs mostly lacked the capital required for industrial innovations. Nowadays the market entry barriers have greatly been reduced through the widespread use of the internet as a

Founder of the professional networks XING, today Founder & Executive Geek of the investment firm hackfwd (
2 03/2013-03-07-merkel-startups.html

An example is the so called la fi facebook friends. It has been used in the description of several Start-ups which were founded by members of the former Facebook staff in order to come up with revolutionised products in a daily cooperative manner ( 2012/apr/06/business/la-fi-facebook-friends-20120407).

The interplay between the citations of Merkel and Drucker leaves the question: How do these young companies organise the digital knowledge intensive cooperation? In the process, based on the specific organisations constitution and socialisation, many policymakers and members in these young and innovative enterprises have a large freedom of choice when it comes to (unencumbered) implementation of the (digital) cooperation. These enterprises are faced with limited experiences, and hardly have any established structures or processes relating to the (digital) cooperation and their organisation, and this largely limits the application and use or software, or necessitates the transition from the existing data and information inventory. Employees in the outlined companies are mostly young and have no (negative) working experience with regards to IT systems. To the contrary: They have grown up with these systems, are viewed upon as experts by the time they become teenagers and are often relied upon to demonstrate (at home or professionally) to the older generations how these new media works. Answering the just asked question with the sketched background will allow a glimpse into a hitherto little explored collaboration of young, innovative companies and provides an outlook on what requirements and expectations employee (even in established organizations) will expect to a work and tool landscape in coming years. It is believed that an increase in the productivity of knowledge work just goes along very closely with the manner of implementation of the cooperation between these knowledge workers. A young software category the social software - has established itself rapidly around the globe and comes into place with the pledge to establish and enable new forms of cooperation and teamwork. First Initial studies (e.g. BITKOM 2012, Mattern et. al. 2012) single and multiple case studies (e.g. Riemer et. al. 2012, Richter et. al. 2011, Schubert et. al. 2011) investigate if and how the outlined challenges can be dealt with by using modern web technology (social software) and its capabilities. These studies enable the deduction of valuable insights to the digital cooperation and the corresponding tools deployed. This perception is however limited to the usage and IT records of the established organisations. The analysed scenarios are characterised by user experiences (established organisational structures and processes, unsuccessful knowledge management processes) as well as available tools (existing communication and cooperation tools, the IT infrastructure in place) from past decades. The author views this as a research gap: A longitudinal study of the IT infrastructure for digital cooperation particularly in young, innovative enterprises and hence the intersection of the CSCW research and the academic disciplines relating to the topic of entrepreneurship, something that many young and innovative enterprises (Start-ups) are faced with. Only a few isolated instances are known, where the IT infrastructure and the digital

cooperation in young, innovative enterprises has been studied (e.g. Walter et. al. 2010). Furthermore it is rare to find longitudinal studies where the advancement in IT infrastructure for digital cooperation has been analysed. A longitudinal study can guide the development of an IT infrastructure and associated interaction patterns on a snapshot out. The author hopes that this in-depth insights and knowledge about the use of software to support collaboration. In addition he wants to document the learning process of the company over a long period of and aggregate it. In the light of the above, the task of closing the outlined research gap prepares insights and implications for the established organisations and serves to illustrate and represent the contextual knowledge for young enterprises. The digital support of cooperation should never be an end in itself, but a means to efficiently work together to achieve a goal. Following this premise, an improvement in the cooperation in established organisations can be a crucial factor behind competitiveness and in light of their progressive importance to the national economies in Europe; the contextual knowledge of these young companies has increasingly become essential and enables swift innovation implementation.

The overall research objective is the daily digital cooperation between teams within young, innovative companies, who offer technology or knowledge intensive products or services. The task at hand entails one, the longitudinal assessment and representation of these young, digital cooperations status quo, and two, aims at determining the circumstances, under which this status quo can sensibly be applied to improve the established organizations. Furthermore the outlined task should strive to generate contextual knowledge for young enterprises in order to facilitate the teamwork organization. The overriding question is, how should young, innovative enterprises design the digital cooperation and what implications do these have for the established organizations? The following questions can be deduced for the above: In what context do young, innovative enterprises operate? (F1) Which tools do the young, innovative enterprises deploy? (F2) Alternatively: Which tools do young, innovative enterprises use in order to increase their digital cooperations productivity? How and in what form do the digital cooperations contexts and deployed tools change within a period of three years (2011 2014)? (F3) How can these young, innovative enterprises take advantage of these tools and context? (F4)

Which similarities and differences exist between young and established organizations?(F5) How and under which conditions can the utilization ways of young, innovative enterprises be applied to established organizations? (F6)



An explorative approach is in light of the outlined research gap possible. The aim is to have an overview on the first two questions (In what context do young, innovative enterprises operate? (F1) and Which tools do the young, innovative enterprises deploy? (F2)) with the aid of structured interviews in 10 different young, innovative enterprises. This review should, by means of a longitudinal study on these 10 enterprises, be carried out and be compared over a period of four years in order to come up with an answer to the third question How and in what form do the digital cooperations contexts and deployed tools change within a period of three years (2011 2014)?(F3). The plan is to conduct these interviews thrice in four years, and thereby examine the 10 participating enterprises. A second quantitative sub-study has been planned to be conducted parallel to the third survey in order to reach out to a large number of young, innovative enterprises and at the same time try to get a glimpse of their latest deployed tools. This would be relevant in coming up with wellfounded answers to the F1 and F2 questions. The findings from the first three questions F1, F2, and F3 should argumentatively be used to answer the fourth How can these young, innovative enterprises take advantage of these tools and context? (F4). The corresponding outcome will then be compared with the findings from the cooperation of established organisations (e.g. in order to handle the fifth question Which similarities and differences exist between young and established organisations? (F5). Finally this comparison should be used in tackling the last question How and under which conditions can the utilisation ways of young, innovative enterprises be applied to established organisations? (F6)

The pilot study for this project took place in 2011 as part of the thesis (Denner 2011, Denner and Koch 2013). A total of 12 managers of 10 young, innovative companies are interviewed in this pilot study. With this exploratory study, the digital collaboration of 113 employees (74 FTEs) is collected and analyzed. Besides the first two central hypotheses survey instruments are developed in the pilot study, which have already been used in another workshop. In addition to further scholarly study of the thesis now working on the proposal is in the foreground. After that the second survey phase will start.

The proposal outlined in this research project is nearing completion, and then ask the community some questions for discussion: General feedback on the research regarding meaningfulness and comprehensibility Specially feedback and related work to this research subject "digital collaboration in young, innovative company" Exchange of research methodology Talk to the procedure outlined

The Author views the outlined research project as an opportunity with the intention to close the demonstrated empirical gap with respect to digital cooperation data in young, innovative enterprises. The insights to be gained about the knowledge workers productivity should be incorporated while addressing the cooperation in established organisations. Furthermore, this important contextual knowledge that is relevant for the growth of our economy should be analysed and processed for the young, innovative enterprises. Hence what the author wants is, according to Federal Chancellor Merkel: When Lars Hinrichs said that in their industry [Internet Start-ups], growth should be expected by many, we want in the same way to a) understand the cooperation and b) also get to analyse what established organisations can learn from the Internet Start-ups.

Figure 1. Methodological approach and roadmap

Jonathan Denner (Dipl.-Wi.-Ing.) studied industrial engineering and philosophy at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT, formerly the University of Karlsruhe). In his thesis (Denner 2011, Professor Dr. Studer (KIT) and Professor Dr. Koch (Universitt der Bundeswehr Mnchen) he dealt with the digital cooperation in young, innovative companies. Since 2008 he is founder and managing partner of nwebs GbR the companys focus is on consulting and development of tools for digital collaboration. He is a freelancer since 2012 at Cooperation Systems Research Group Munich. Research blog at


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