ATTRACT Behavioral Change 4 ERI scientists

Project coordinator

Clio Dosi, University of Bologna




News & articles

ATTRACT stories: ABC4E project (please, accept the cookies to see the video)

Research question

Can psychological flexibility-based training improve scientists’ open innovation attitude and knowledge exchange behaviours?

Project at a glance

A behavioural training based on ACT (Acceptance Commitment Therapy) for boosting collaboration between scientists and researchers from industry and other disciplines. The goal is to overcome scientists’ individual barriers to interdisciplinary, inter-functional and inter-organizational collaboration and improve their open innovation competencies.

Public summary

This experimental study wants to improve open innovation in ERI science-driven projects. To achieve this goal, we will design and test a behavioural training that develops scientists’ psychological flexibility, a key entrepreneurial skill, and empower knowledge exchange in open innovation processes.

In an open innovation context, scientists display different degrees of openness, with different open innovation attitudes. Scientists’ disposition to evaluate external knowledge and to share internal knowledge will affect how the results of their research will be open or closed, impacting on programs’ performance such as ATTRACT. To adopt knowledge from the outside and share knowledge from the inside, knowledge boundaries need to be dismantled.

Open innovation literature studied negative attitudes such as the Not Invented Here (NIH) connected to knowledge absorption behaviour, and the Not Sold Here (NSH) connected to knowledge sharing behaviour. Literature shows which constructs (e.g. perspective taking) act as countermeasures to those attitudes at the individual level, to increase knowledge exchange behaviours, but does not provide practical tools and interventions that support individuals at modifying their behaviours on constructs such as perspective taking and recategorization. The latest inputs from management scholars identified, as countermeasures, specific elements that behavioural psychology connects to psychological flexibility.

Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) works at the level of behaviours to improve individuals’ psychological flexibility. In this study, we experiment at the individual level to try to modify scientists’ behaviours with psychological training, integrating two different disciplines. We will test whether it is possible to train scientists at developing entrepreneurial skills by targeting their psychological flexibility, and whether such training improves scientists’ open innovation performances. To do this, we will adapt ACT to ERI contexts for open innovation in science. ACT is already used not only in clinical environments but also in contexts of high performance as distress’ management, in work and sports contexts.

The results of the study will consist of the definition of a training for scientists that want to improve their open innovation competences and their capabilities to transfer results of basic research to society. The training will be a helpful tool for ERI managers as well, since they will be able to assess the scientists in their organization who need support to develop open innovation competences. Finally, policy makers will benefit from the study since they will be able to use the training tool as another tool or proxy to maximise funded projects’ success.