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Two Fox School of Business professors and their College of Science and Technology research partner recently received a $95,000 grant from French research foundation CIGREF for a project developing the new interdisciplinary field of organizational genetics, which applies analytic tools used in evolutionary biology to the study of organizational processes. This is the third grant the project has attracted thus far and brings the project’s total funding to about $400,000.
The one-year, approximately $95,000 CIGREF grant will be used to hire post-doctoral and research fellows with the technical skills to further advance the project.
The grant proposal was sent to CIGREF by Assistant Professor of Biology Rob Kulathinal, Fox Assistant Professor of Management Information Systems (MIS) Sunil Wattal and Fox MIS Professor Youngjin Yoo. Their proposal received the highest score among all proposals sent to CIGREF this year. The research has also received funding from Fox’s Young Scholar Forum, a bi-annual event that provides seed funding to Fox faculty and PhD students with interdisciplinary research projects.
The organizational genetics project is titled “VOSS-Collaborative Research: Evolution in Virtualized Design Processes in Project-Based Design Organizations,” and is led by Kulathinal and Yoo, who is also director of Temple University’s Center for Design+Innovation, which is based at the Fox School.
The project’s inspiration came when the researchers noticed that technological innovations develop in patterns resembling the evolution of natural organisms. The researchers hope that identifying the underlying traits driving this technological evolution will enable business leaders to maximize firms’ innovation and performance.
The research – which targets the automotive, microprocessor and building industries – also seeks to hasten other industries’ technological breakthroughs, from eco-friendly smart-grids in the energy sector, to “pervasive healthcare” in the medical sector, to social media.
“This shows that the investments that the school is making to support interdisciplinary research pays off,” Yoo said. “I hope Fox continues to encourage our junior colleagues as well as doctoral students to aim at innovative and groundbreaking ideas.”