Robin Gustafsson
Department of Industrial Engineering and Management

Robin Gustafsson

Professor (Associate Professor)

Contact information

Postal address
Otaniementie 17
Mobile phone
Full researcher profile


My research focuses on strategy and organization in industry and market disruptions (technology induced disruptions). In my research and teaching I have taken in increased focus in how digital is disrupting existing industries and markets, successful digital platform strategies, new sources of competitive advantage arising from digitalisation, open digital platforms and multi-sided platforms, and corporate digital strategies. In my research I take a longitudinal empirical approach (both historical and real-time) for investigating changes in sources of competitive advantage, changes in strategy and organization due to industry and market disruption, and the formation and shaping of strategic reasoning when an industry is going through a disruption. I teach advanced courses in strategy, platform strategy and design, digital strategy, and technology and innovation strategy at the Masters, doctoral, and MBA, EMBA level. I engage frequently with SMEs and large company managers and executives with their their strategy challenges and opportunities arising from disruption of their industry environment, especially digital disruption of industry environment and their strategy work with digital and platforms.

Currently I am working with my team and research partners on the following research project

  1. Strategy and organzinig during digital disruption of industries (Academy of Finland funded 2015-2020) Empirical and inductive theory driven research on the institutional foundations of digital disruption of industries. Specific focus on both past cases (sub-project 2 and 3) and a real time study of midium size and large machinery firms digital (platform) strategzing and organization (longitudinal study 2016-2020).
  2. Strategy and organizing of pioneering in changing industry settings and new markets  Historical empirical study on (A) strategy and organization in demutualization of stock exchange(s) (Helsinki and Stockholm), (B) deregulation of telecom sector(s) in Finland and Sweden and the strategizing of two monopolists (A & B funded by Wallenberg foundation, Konsumentverket, Helander foundation, Academy of Finland); and (C) a study on the pioneering strategizing in the biofuels field (Europe) (2004-2015)
  3. Development of digital history methods for studying strategy and organization in industry change We are developing methods and tools to work with large set of digitized archival material which are combined into a relational database through incident and relational coding. We call this method an integrative digital history approach. This work is done in the digital history consortia (DIGIHIST) with Swedish and Finnish researchers and thorugh the working with stock exchange and telecom sector archival data. In this research we develop cutting edge advanced digital history methods and approaches with relational databases for studying more rigorously strategy and organization processes that can account for firm environment effects.
  4. Narrative strategies in new markets and industry shifts (Tekes funded 2012-2015) 
    A real time research project (2012-2015) on narrative strategizing in the emergent electric vehicle and charging operarator market in Finland and US (California).
  5. Organization and managmenet of open innovation and open (industry led) research 
    A longitudinal research (2006-2014) on the the formation,governance, and organizing of Finnsh strategic centers for Science, Technology and Innovation (SHOKs), with focus on CLEEN and FIMECC

My research have been published in top tier journals, such as Academy of Management Journal, International Journal of Management Reviews, Research Policy, Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Information Systems Research, and Organization Studies. My research provides input to corporate and firm platform and digital strategy work, strategizing and organization in industry wide change, open digital platform strategzing and design, governance of open research and innovation communities, and innovation and industry policy.

More about my reserach: See the articles on this page, and this interview presenting faculty of Aalto University.



Advanced Strategic Management (TU-E1010)

Doctoral Seminar in Strategy and Venturing (TU-L1001)

Qualitative Research Methods (TU-L0030)


Current Doctoral Students 

1st supervisor: Eero Aalto, Zeerim Cheung, and Aino-Nina Saarikoski

2nd supervisor: Timo Ahopelto and Derek Selin

Supervised Doctoral Student

Kimmo Karhu (graduated 1/2017), Thesis: Managing Competitive and Cooperative Strategizing in Open PLatform Ecosystems using Boundary Resources 

Christopher Rowell (graduated 8/2017), Thesis: Signaling and Shaping Legitimacy - Weaving webs of meaning in time and new markets


Exemplary Master Theses I have supervised which can be found electronically (alt. summaries of them):


Areas of expertise

Emergence and renewal of industries Digital disruption of industries Strategic management of technology and innovation Strategic management Platform strategy and design Narrative strategies

Honors and awards

Award or honor granted for a specific work
Department of Industrial Engineering and Management
Jun 2017

Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence The chapter written by Christopher Rowell, Robin Gustafsson and Marco Clemente ' titled 'How Institutions Matter “In Time”: The Temporal Structures of Practices and Their Effects on Practice Reproduction’, published in Research in the Sociology of Organizations 48A has been selected by the editorial team as an Outstanding Author Contribution in the 2017 Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence. The chapter was chosen as a winner as it is one of the most impressive pieces of work the team has seen throughout 2016.

Award or honor granted for academic career
Department of Industrial Engineering and Management
Jan 2013

Nominated member of The Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences in Finland 2013-


Department of Industrial Engineering and Management

Q&A. Innovation and Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Research: Where Are We Now and How Do We Move Forward?

Publishing year: 2018 Technology Innovation Management Review
Department of Computer Science, Professorship Mäntylä M., Department of Industrial Engineering and Management

Exploiting and defending open digital platforms with boundary resources

Publishing year: 2018 Information Systems Research
Department of Industrial Engineering and Management

Asymmetric regulation, managerial discretion, and corporate political strategies

Publishing year: 2018
Department of Industrial Engineering and Management

Extending community management to industry-university-government organizations

Publishing year: 2018 R & D MANAGEMENT
Department of Industrial Engineering and Management

Value Creation from the Internet of Things in Heavy Machinery: A Middle Manager Perspective

Publishing year: 2018 Collaborative Value Co-creation in the Platform Economy
Department of Industrial Engineering and Management

Environment Effects in Organizational Form Emergence: The Origin of Two For-Profit Stock Exchanges

Publishing year: 2017 Academy of Management Proceedings
Department of Management Studies, Department of Industrial Engineering and Management

Temporal institutional work

Publishing year: 2016 Academy of Management Journal
Department of Industrial Engineering and Management

Emergence of Industries

Department of Industrial Engineering and Management

How institutions matter "in time"

Publishing year: 2016 Research in the Sociology of Organizations
Department of Industrial Engineering and Management

Examining open-endedness of expectations in emerging technological fields: The case of cellulosic ethanol

Publishing year: 2015 Technological Forecasting and Social Change