Complexity Challenges of Collaborative Research and Innovation Projects


Prof. Dr. Brane Semolic

LENS Living Lab

Celje, Slovenia


Post-globalization and instable business environments demand permanent improvements and changes of business processes and products. “Open the boxes” and exchange of information, ideas and set-up collaboration with stakeholders such as customers, end-users, clients, vendors, business partners, potential competitors – these are the main challenges of current organizations and their business environments. Modern, effective and efficient, organizations are becoming more virtual and flexible. Their boundaries are blurred and not closed as they were at the time of the industrial era. This paper discusses issues of complexity of research and innovation collaborative projects, related open innovation opportunities, and how to deal with the complexity of involved personal communities and networks as well.

Key words: projects, project management, collaboration, virtual organization, research and innovation, open innovation environment, communities, complexity

1.  Collaborative Business Environment Challenges

Modern enterprises are permanently scanning their business activities and the situation on the global market and searching for opportunities to improve their competitiveness. In the wake of global financial downturn the enterprises are facing a constant competition from both, regional and global markets. This demands speeding up the pace to innovate, produce and provide higher quality products and services with a higher degree of customizability (Semolic, Imtiaz, 2010). In order to sustain a feasible growth, the leading enterprises have recognized the need to shift from classic organizational structures into being more diverse and distributed internally as well as externally, mainly depending on collaboration as a basis for competitive advantage in innovation (Mertins 2003, Firestone 2002). The main change drivers are:


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About the Author 

pmwj23-jun2014-Semolic-AUTHOR IMAGEBrane Semolic flag-Slovenia

Celje, Slovenia

Brane Semolic, PhD, is currently head of LENS Living Lab – international R&D living laboratory, professor at the Faculty of Logistics, University of Maribor in Maribor, Slovenia, professor at the Cranefield College, Johannesburg and procurator of INOVA Consulting. He is President of the Experts Council of  Project Management Association of Slovenia (ZPM)  and IPMA & ICEC  (International Cost Engineering Council) Strategic Alliance Coordinator. He serves as the first assessor in the IPMA 4-level PM certification program since 1997. Brane Semolic has a BSc in Mechanical Engineering (technology), and a BSc, M. Sc. and Ph.D.in Business Administration and Informatics. Professor Semolic has 35 years of working experience as an expert, researcher, consultant, manager, project manager and CEO in the industry and for the Slovene government. He spent four years as Counselor to the Ministry of Science and Technology, Republic of Slovenia (1990 – 1994) and has been a member of the International Association for Project Management (IPMA) since 1982. He was previously a Professor at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Electronics and Computer Sciences and Faculty of Civil Engineering(University of Maribor); Dean of GEA College (Global Entrepreneurship Academy) in Ljubljana; Lecturer in the “European Project Manager” postgraduate education program (joint program with University of Bremen); Cofounder of the EU education program “European Master in Project Management”; IPMA Vice president (international events and R&D); Chairman of the IPMA Research Management Board (2005-2012); President of the Slovenian Project management Association (ZPM); First IPMA foreign assessor in the PM Certification Program in Serbia and Montenegro; Project manager of the 14th IPMA (International Project Management Association) world congress in 1998; and President of scientific committee of 1st joint ICEC & IPMA Global Congress on Project Management and Cost Engineering in 2006. He has published more than 400 works on project management and other topics. He was awarded as ICEC (International Cost Engineering Council) Distinguished International Fellow in 2008. Professor Semolic can be contacted at [email protected] Additional information about the LENS Living Lab can be found at http://www.3-lab.eu/.