Before leaving, we asked Päivi about her research, managerial advice for organisational change and some reflections on TLU and MEDIT:
Tell us about your (academic) background and your research interests.
I defended my dissertation five years ago with the topic of digital transformation at the Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle). It is a longitudinal study following the digitalization process at Yle concerning drivers and challenges of change. For me personally, it was an important topic after working many years at Yle as a journalist and manager before starting in academia. After my dissertation, I have continued with research in the media sector focusing on organizational renewal and change management. For example, I was a project manager in a two-year research project on digital transformation in the regional media. In this project, we analyzed managerial and organizational challenges and solutions when transforming from print to digital business. In the beginning of next year, I will be participating in a research project on sustainable business models in the media sector. I am happy that Tallinn University/MEDIT will be one our collaborators in this project. Theoretically, I apply such concepts and frames as ambidexterity, capabilities and managerial and organizational cognition. I am interested in e.g. how managers’ strategic thinking affects organizational renewal capability and how organizations build change-enhancing capabilities. Ambidexterity is about how companies are simultaneously able to both exploit current business and explore new business models.
What are good managerial practices that enhance organisational change? How does this differ in the media industry from other industries (if at all)?
My studies show clearly that good leadership skills and especially good communication skills play a key role when implementing change. I regularly run into situations where employees complain that they don’t know about the changes, especially why the changes are taking place. It seems to be difficult for managers to remember that communicating openly about the changes enhances employees’ commitment. In addition, in this platform-based digital business environment, the heavy bureaucratic structures do not work. The leaner the organizations are the better. In order to enhance organizational adaptivity and positive mindset towards change, managers should find ways to engage people by delegating power, removing silos and creating more flexible and lean structures. This enhances communications and sharing of ideas between organizational levels and units. The lean and flexible structures are of particular importance in media companies where creativity is the most important resource and driver of change on a daily basis. Digital technologies are disrupting the media industry maybe faster than any other industry. Hierarchies and rigid unit structures hamper creativity and flexible adaptation. Therefore, media companies should enhance the collaboration of marketing & sales and editorial staff when pursuing new innovations and business models.
LUT leads a 2-year project titled "Media Organizations in the Era of Contradictions: Towards Sustainable Business Models" that involves also the universities of Lund, Jönköping, Zürich and Tallinn University /BFM. Please tell us about the project.
We received 175 000 euros for this project from the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation. During this project, we will closely collaborate with our international partners and media companies. We will collect data at least in Finland, Estonia and Sweden.
In this study, we define sustainable business models as those that can create value not only from economical, but also from societal and environmental perspectives. This project tackles a very topical phenomenon in the media. Digitalisation of media has created a situation where different kinds of platforms, forums, and communities have turned media users into producers. This situation where practically anyone can produce content, generates challenges for media responsibility. Media need to maintain and enhance their creative independence and editorial freedom, but at the same time, they need to operate profitably in the increasingly competitive media markets. In our study, we will be exploring what types of sustainable business models can be developed in the media sector and how media organizations resolve the inherent tensions in their business models regarding the contradictory logics of business and ethical entities. We want to analyze how the traditional media companies cope with the challenges and what kinds of new sustainable digital business models emerge.
What were the main reasons for you to include BFM and MEDIT?
The strong expertise of BFM and MEDIT is impressive. In MEDIT, there are many interesting research projects e.g. in the area of media innovations. Furthermore, Estonia is an interesting country characterized with strong entrepreneurial culture. It is also a small market with similar challenges to Finland, which makes the comparison of these countries interesting. Importantly, we have already good contacts between LUT School of Business and Management and MEDIT, which makes the collaboration easy. My visit has naturally been valuable also in this regard.
What did you like about your stay at TLU/MEDIT?
It was wonderful to get to know people working at TLU/MEDIT and learn about their research projects and interests. I was amazed by all the interesting research projects! I was also lucky to have the chance to teach the students at BFM. It was also interesting to learn about the study programs and what the working culture is like. I also had the opportunity to meet some people from the media companies. During this kind of research visit you also learn new things about Tallinn and the country – how people think and what is happening in the politics. I also experienced some wonderful cultural events, e.g. the concert of Eesti Rahvusmeeskoor.
Will you come back? What are your plans?
Definitely, I will come back. Our research project will provide me the possibility to return hopefully already next year. I am really happy about this opportunity. Our research project will give us the possibility to learn more about Estonia and its media.