Department of Business Administration

Lund University School of Economics and Management

Wen Pan Fagerlin

Wen Pan Fagerlin defended her doctoral thesis “Participant, Catalyst or Spectator? – A study of how managers apply control in innovation processes” 5th February. Below you can find out more about Wen and her research, described in her own words.

I joined the Institute of Economic Research at LUSEM as a PhD candidate and a researcher in May 2009 when I was about to finish my second Master’s year in the programme Management Research at the School of Economics and Management at Lund University. In 2008 I received my Master of Science in Business Administration from the program Managing People, Knowledge and Change in Lund. I also have a Master of Economics from Academy of Social Sciences in 2006 in Shanghai, China.

Prior to my academic career I have been strongly involved in global sourcing and procurement activities where I successfully delivered large sourcing projects and assisted the process of manufacturing transfer for previous employers. I am currently working as a management consultant in Belgium, facilitating the internationalization process of a Chinese multinational corporation.

In my thesis titled “Participant, Catalyst or Spectator? – A study of how managers apply control in innovation processes” I have investigated two research questions:

  1. How is an organizational control system established and maintained in product and process innovation?
  2. How are innovation processes facilitated or hindered as a result of the interplay between forms of control and autonomy?

By means of an in-depth longitudinal case study, I followed 15 innovation projects at a Swedish multinational industrial organization – the Trelleborg Group.

The established literature has recognized top management involvement as one of the most critical success factors in firms’ innovation efforts. However, we still know little about how top management involvement is executed along the different phases of innovation from idea creation to integration and finally commercialization. By exploring the temporal dimension of innovation and control, my thesis suggests three types of roles top management can take during these phases, namely as a participant, catalyst, and spectator.

An alternative to the traditional view that innovation and control are always in tension, this thesis raises the suggestion that the involvement of top managers and their specific role in different phases of innovation can be a mediating factor for the co-existence between innovation and control. By illustrating the co-existing, interplaying, and at times supportive relationship between control and innovation, my thesis advances our understanding of how responsible autonomy is used for managing innovation.


"Knowledge Creation and Application in Technology Collaboration Portfolio: Two Cases in China." Published in Chinese Management Studies, Vol 9, Issue 4.

"Lost in Translation? Managing innovation processes across national boundaries – a case study of a Swedish MNC’s innovation activities in China." Presented at Organizational Learning, Knowledge and Capability Conference (OLKC) in Washington DC, USA.                         

"The Evolutionary Road Towards Innovating in China: The Development of Global Innovation Capability Within MNCs." Presented at Strategic Management Society Conference (SMS) in Guangzhou, China.                         

"Barriers to organizational learning: a case study of a change project." Presented at Organizational Learning, Knowledge and Capability Conference (OLKC) in Hull, UK.                    

"In Pursuit of Ambidextrous Organizations: Using Knowledge Sharing and Organizational Learning to bridge structural ambidexterity and contextual ambidexterity." Presented at Organizational Learning, Knowledge and Capability Conference (OLKC) in Boston, M.A, USA.              

"The Demonstration Analysis of ‘Pre-holiday Effect’ in China’s Stock Market." Published in Academic Research, Dec 2005.                   

"Never Neglect the Negative Effects of Foreign Direct Investment." Published in Social Observation, Oct 2004.

Wen Pan Fagerlin
Wen Pan Fagerlin