Researcher in Spotlight: Associate Professor Krithika Randhawa | January


The John Grill Institute for Project Leadership’s monthly ‘Researcher in Spotlight’ piece aims to highlight the bright minds that make up our organisation and showcasing the diverse range of experts who contribute to our work. We are delighted to launch this series with a profile on our Internal Management Group member: Associate Professor Krithika Randhawa.


Please briefly introduce yourself.

I am Associate Professor of Strategy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Sydney’s Business School, as well as an invited member of the Internal Management Group for the John Grill Institute for Project Leadership. I am interested in how corporates and start-ups can make strategic choices about adopting and scaling innovation and digital technologies. My work examines how organizations can innovate their offerings and business models particularly in the manufacturing, healthcare, and public policy contexts.

Before moving to the University of Sydney, I worked for twelve years at the University of Technology Sydney, where I started my academic career working on a series of research projects on the global benchmarking of management practices in the manufacturing and health sectors for the Australian Department of Industry and Science, New Zealand Ministry of Economic Development, as well as NSW Health and Queensland Health, in collaboration with the London School of Economics.

I serve as the Associate Editor of the Journal of Business Research and R&D Management journal, Associate Program Chair of the World Open Innovation Conference, and am a member on the Editorial Review Board of the Journal of Product Innovation Management. I regularly present and chair sessions at international conferences such as the Academy of Management, European Group for Organizational Studies and Strategic Management Society.

Prior to joining academia, I gained management experience for eight years in the global hotel industry with a track record of launching luxury hotels and driving strategic innovation projects as part of India’s ITC Hotels and its partnership with Starwood Hotels (now part of Marriott International).

Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and follow me on X (formerly Twitter).

What are your research interests?

I specialise in open innovation, a novel way for organisations to innovate by collaborating with external stakeholders. I have a particular interest in contemporary forms of open innovation such as digital platforms, ecosystems, crowdsourcing, communities, and collaborative business models. I explore how such organisational forms may be utilised to improve innovation outcomes, and ultimately create business and societal benefits.

My research lies at the interface of open innovation, digital ecosystems, and managerial decision-making. In one stream of work, I focus on how organisations promote openness across innovation ecosystems. Another research stream explores the role of digital technologies in allowing such collaborative forms of organising to emerge, in turn, transforming the practice of open innovation. In a final strand of research, I examine the microfoundations of open innovation, looking at how managerial choices and actions shape an organisation’s ability to develop open innovation ecosystems.

Through my Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award 2024, I will conduct a 3-year multi-level study on “Governing Industrial Data Ecosystems: Open Innovation in a Digital Economy”.

I publish my research in journals such as the Journal of Management Studies, Journal of Product Innovation Management, Journal of Business Research, Technovation, Industrial Marketing Management, Industrial and Corporate Change and California Management Review, book chapters, industry reports, media articles and podcasts (e.g., R&D Today, The Mandarin and Government News).

Through my research, I also work with industry partners in the private and public sector, including corporates (e.g., Stryker), start-ups (e.g., Bang the Table), industry consortia (e.g., IoT Alliance Australia), and government departments (e.g., the Australian Department of Industry and Science, the New Zealand Ministry of Economic Development, New South Wales Health, and Queensland Health), to deliver solutions addressing industry and policy challenges.

You can follow my work on Google Scholar and my University profile.

How does this relate to Project Leadership?

My work relates to the rich tradition of research at the nexus of organisations and projects focusing on how best to organise and manage innovation.

Researchers have started to view project leadership as a collective and collaborative practice, rather than an isolated and individualised one. My work aligns with this approach and can add to our understanding of the role of project leaders and leadership in embracing open innovation practices to achieve better project outcomes.

Megaprojects involve large-scale organising across multiple stakeholders. Work at the intersection of innovation ecosystems and projects can shed light on the capabilities, business models and governance mechanisms to deal with such stakeholder complexity and enable the co-creation of innovation across ecosystems in complex projects.

Emergent technologies such as IoT and AI applications can aid seamless data sharing across multiple project stakeholders, but this requires the orchestration of the project’s innovation ecosystem. Therefore, another pertinent question is how project leaders can embrace digital technologies to create and capture value through ecosystems in complex projects.

Finally, examining how (digital) ecosystems emerge and evolve in practice, how managers make decisions about project governance, and how these governance mechanisms address data-sharing barriers at the ecosystem and firm levels, are critical to unlock the full potential of open innovation in complex project settings.

How has being involved in the John Grill Institute for Project Leadership been? How has it enhanced your work?

As part of the Internal Management Group of the John Grill Institute for Project Leadership, the opportunity to interact with multi-disciplinary members has been very enriching. I have enjoyed exploring collaborative research opportunities at the interface of organisations and project management.

I fully relate to the Institute’s commitment to bridge the gap between high quality research and practice on the leadership and management of projects. I particularly appreciate how it approaches its mission through an array of initiatives including thought leadership, seminars, workshops, white-papers and activities that bring cross-disciplinary academics and industry practitioners together. This is the key to address grand societal challenges.

The opportunity to engage in major events and symposia such as the annual ‘Project Leadership in a Changing World’ Symposium, industry partnerships, diverse (international) research communities and executive education programs is invaluable. I look forward to working closely and collaboratively to unpack the Organisational Dynamics of Projects and deliver sustainable outcomes for future generations.