Prof Gerald Steiner

Gerald Steiner is a current Visiting Scholar and former Schumpeter Professor at Harvards Weatherhead Center for International Affairs (WCFIA). He is also Associate Professor of Systemic and Sustainability Management at the Institute for Systems Science, Innovation & Sustainability Research at the University of Graz, and teaches applied innovation processes at the School of Industrial Design in Graz.

As a scholar in sustainable innovation and entrepreneurship, his research is centred around innovation systems and innovation processes, with a particular emphasis on competence development, methodology, the role of entrepreneurs in innovation, and policies for sustainable development. Primary projects at the University of Graz relate to organisational and regional innovation systems, whereas at Harvard, he focuses on international affairs and crises-related innovation and problem solving processes within this context. In his freelance consulting business, he also provides expert advice to SMEs, large international companies, and regions in the fields of innovation development (particularly the design of collaborative problem solving processes), strategic management, and competence development.

He received an MBA and PhD in Business Administration (Organizational and Innovation Management) from the University of Graz, and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, all Austria. His training in Business Administration and Civil Engineering was partly conducted at UC Berkley and UCLA (California), and the University of Oklahoma, Norman.

Innovation systems as facilitators of Just Transitions – A global perspective
What role do innovation and innovation systems assume in Just Transitions, and does innovation represent the solution to all problems and challenges faced by todays society? Yes, innovation can be a potential remedy for societys problems, but if driven by narrow-minded perspectives, it can also quickly turn into a potential source of problems. This keynote discusses how joint action on both the policy and operational level could encourage the exploitation of innovation systems as drivers for Just Transition. It further examines how innovation systems can help avoid potential traps related to Just Transition. Examples of such actions could include: (1.) Use Innovation systems as multilevel constructs innovation onion), which bridge the organizational and global level; (2.) Acknowledge that access to technology is supportive but not sufficient in leveraging Just Transition; (3.) Apply a multi-stakeholder perspective, which recognizes stakeholders from every level of the multilevel innovation system, e.g., smallholder farmers and large industries alike, as potential drivers of change and contributors to collaborative innovation; (4.) View crises as potential instigators of sustainable innovation; and (5.) Joint research- and society-driven innovation depends on multiple competences; hence, encourage training of appropriate competences rather than focusing almost exclusively on tertiary education. To master the challenges posed by sustainable development and Just Transitions, and ultimately to ensure geopolitical security, collaborative efforts on all levels of the innovation system will be required.