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Center for Higher Education
Guest talk

Dr. Ben Kokkeler

(BMC Group, The Netherlands)

Distributed Aacademic Leadership in Emergent Research Organisations

Nowadays' occurrences in the science landscape are results of long term developments, showing pathways that result from and inform practices of academics that perform leadership activities. In interaction with pathways new forms of research strategy development and leadership evolve. Leadership practices of a more or less distributed nature, dispersed over time and social space that enable academic leaders to accept complexity and duality of transformation, and in their distributed activities de facto anticipate accordingly in a more or less concerted way.

Ben Kokkeler's presentation builds on his research on recent history of university transformation and distributed academic leadership, aimed to understand emergent research organisation development, distributed leadership and its interrelation with organisational change, and add to further research by delivering concepts and analytical models. The research approach is based on longitudinal empirical research of a process-oriented nature in context. It comprises three case studies that cover the years 1990 – 2005 about evolving distributed leadership arrangements and leadership learning spaces in areas of nanotechnology, IT and Open Systems. Ben has been an observing participant in research organisations over the last thirty years.

In his presentation and dialogue with the colloquium participants, he will focus on the theme of ambidexterity, here: the organisational and distributed leadership balancing-act between exploration and exploitation and organisational change. Addressing the question: do the concepts of ambidexterity and distributed leadership apply for research organisations? Based on his research he will critically assess the applicability, the interrelations with contrasting dynamics and issues of scale in organizational change.


Ben Kokkeler is senior advisor and expert group leader Open Innovation at the BMC Group in The Netherlands. He studied at the University of Twente, the University of Amsterdam and the Radboud University (Nijmegen) and holds a Master degree in Urban and Regional Planning. In October 2014 he defends his PhD thesis on "distributed academic leadership in emergent research organisations" at the University of Twente, supervised by professors Arie Rip and Stefan Kuhlmann (Science, Technology and Policy Studies) and Olaf Fischer (Organisation Studies and Business Ethics). Prior to working with the BMC Group, Ben worked for more than 20 years at Dutch and German universities and research institutes. Positions that he held include director of International Affairs and director of the Graduate School at the University of Twente, Rektorats Projektleiter Hochschulmarketing at the University of Dortmund, and Secretary to the Board of a European consortium of universities (ECIU, the European Consortium of Innovative Universities).

Wednesday, 9 July 2014, 4.00–5.30 p.m. | Vogelpothsweg 78 (CDI building), room 114
Center for Higher Education (zhb)
Professorship of Higher Education