An approach for actor-based transdisciplinary innovation of socio-economic value-chains


An approach for actor-based transdisciplinary innovation

of socio-economic value-chains

T.A.M. (Theo) Lohman, W.F. (Wim) Gielingh[1]



The human race has reached a critical phase of its existence. Western industrial and economic practices have exhausted natural resources and have reduced biodiversity. But emerging economies, such as the BRICS countries, aim at the establishment of comparably high living standards. As we reach the borders of what the Earth can provide within a few decades, there is no other option than to change our way of living, working and thinking fundamentally.

All this will happen in the context of a society that becomes increasingly complex. Human skills and human knowledge have increased to unprecedented levels, requiring high degrees of specialization. As the challenges that are ahead of us cannot be solved by a single discipline, a single science or by technology alone, there is an urgent need for multi- and transdisciplinary skills and knowledge. These should make the required transition feasible within the lifespan of a single generation. The aforementioned challenges cannot be tackled in a top-down fashion either, but call for emergent, decentralized approaches.

We, human individuals, work for organizations that operate as links in larger value-chains. Our span of control is limited. Even CEO’s of enterprises, politicians and presidents are not capable to change society within such a limited timeframe. Hence, society must transform itself through the empowerment of human talents in business, scientific, educational and governmental organizations, throughout the value chains that they collectively form.

In a sequence of European and national collaborative projects between industry, science and education, a new approach has emerged that provides the methodologies and tools for actor-based, transdisciplinary innovation of socio-economic value-chains. Practically all parts of it have been implemented and verified in practice. A collaborative project for the integrated application in food value chains in the Netherlands and China is planned.

Apart from a brief overview and an introduction to the transcultural project, four relevant sub-domains will be presented in more depth:

1)   An actor-based approach for co-innovation in knowledge chains, involving industrial and educational organizations;

2)   Tools and methods for self-organization, supporting 1st, 2nd and 3rd order learning of human individuals, organizations and value chains;

3)   A methodology for systemic and modular innovation;

4)   A theory for cross-disciplinary knowledge sharing (notion-theory).

In addition, relevant areas for future research, with the Netherlands-China project as a potential case study, will be identified.


The speakers:

Theo Lohman - Ir. T.A.M. (Theo) Lohman is CEO and founder of TLO Holland Controls b.v.  He is specialized in Systems Innovation and Education Research, and is founder and vice chairman of foundation AcadeMi-IO (a joint effort of industry and education for business and human innovation).

Theo studied Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Organisation at Delft University of Technology (MSc in 1975). Theo published over 20 articles and 4 books on CA-technologies for Application Engineering and Integration. He is member of the Order of Organization Consultants in the Netherlands and was member of several editorial boards of Kluwer Publishing.


Wim Gielingh - Dr. W.F. (Wim) Gielingh is management consultant with a specialization in business innovation, vice chairman of foundation AcadeMi-IO (a joint effort of industry and education for business and human innovation), and founder of Real Capital (an innovative financial product for sustainable investments).

Wim initiated, managed and directed several large European R&D projects in the field of Product and Process Data Technology, with applications in construction, shipbuilding and the automotive industries. He was also asked by the European Commission to write parts of the 3rd, 4th and 5th Framework programmes for ESPRIT (= European Strategic Programme for Research in Information Technology).


[1] Foundation AcadeMi-IO, Woudrichemseweg 36a, 4286 LB Almkerk, The Netherlands; Correspondences: ,