Public Release: 

No short cuts -- innovation work is about presence and ordinary labor

Lappeenranta University of Technology

Successful innovation work requires that workers and leaders be present and involved in everyday practices. Innovation work is a mundane and 'messy' business in which people have to understand how the material and physical nature of creating new knowledge is linked to place and time as well as the fact that it is filled with unavoidable contradictions and conflicts. Only by being present and involved is it possible to understand 'what's really happening' and make a contribution.

These are the results of Ulla-Maija Uusitalo's doctoral thesis in which she examines the creation of new knowledge from the perspective of concrete and everyday practices, striving to understand how experts from different fields work together to innovate. The creation of interdisciplinary new knowledge and innovations leadership that is present and understands people - not the leadership of projects, workload and cost calculations or extremely refined goals according to some general best practices. Every situation is unique, just like the people that participate in them. There is no short cut to understanding this fact - a leader has to get involved in the same manner as the participants.

In both academic research and the media, the future of individuals, companies and entire national economies are seen as being dependent on their ability to produce new knowledge, renew and innovate. Taking into account the fact that modern society faces very complicated challenges, collaboration between experts from different backgrounds is seen as a critical source of innovations. However, there is little research on what the concrete work related to this 'interdisciplinary knowledge creation' is like and how it should be led.

Ulla-Maija Uusitalo, M. Sc. (Economics) and M. Sc. (Social Sciences), will defend her dissertation entitled Show me your brain! Stories of Interdisciplinary Knowledge Creation in Practice. Observations and Experiences from Aalto Design Factory, Finland at noon on 20 August 2015 in room 1382 at Lappeenranta University of Technology. The opponent will be Professor Silvia Gherardi from the University of Trento, Italy. Professor Aino Kianto from Lappeenranta University of Technology will serve as custos.


The dissertation has been published in the Acta Universitatis Lappeenrantaensis research series number 649. ISBN 978-952-265-819-7 and ISSN 1456-4491. The dissertation is available for reading on the Lappeenranta University of Technology database at A printed version of the dissertation may be purchased from the Aalef bookstore, tel. +358 44 744 5511 or kirjakauppa(at) and from the LUT Shop online store at

The doctoral candidate's personal information:

Name: Ulla-Maija Uusitalo
Year and place of birth: 1971, Helsinki
Home municipality: Helsinki
Education: M. Sc. (Social Sciences) University of Helsinki, 1996, M. Sc. (Economics) Lappeenranta University of Technology, 2008
Employment: Sales Director, S-Verkkopalvelut Oy (a subsidiary of SOK) 09/2011 -

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