Managing the Digital Transformation: Preparing Cities for the Future

  • Markus Kowalski
  • Anja Danner-Schröder
  • Gordon Müller-Seitz


This chapter examines how organizations cope with and handle the temporal mode of the future in the light of digital transformation. Despite the importance of organizing for the future, we still lack an understanding of which processes and practices organizations use to manage the future. To this end, one of the most pervasive challenges in today’s organizational landscape is that of coping with the issues imposed by the ever-increasing need to face digitalization. Actors are able to reveal the practices and processes used to actually manage digital transformation, venturing beyond accounts that merely sketch the future as a digitalized, imagined state. We address this challenge through an explorative in-depth case study, observing how a set of innovation networks in Germany developed new city management concepts in a collaborative fashion to generate an intelligent and sustainable city of the future. Our analysis shows that innovation networks offer an at least partially generalizable account of how to engage different actors to collaborate on the challenges of the future. Building on these observations, we add to the extant literature on organizing for the future by (1) revealing practices and processes used to actually manage the digital transformation, and (2) providing a phase framework that offers an at least partially generalizable account of how to engage different actors to collaborate on the challenges of digitalization. Moreover, (3) our insights focus, at least indirectly, attention on cities as informative urban laboratories that engage with digitalization, offering an alternative setting to study when compared to the more usual settings of digitalization efforts, such as companies or crowds.



The authors thank the members of the research network and particularly all those members who gave up their time to be available for an interview. We would also like to thank the editors of this book, Matthias Wenzel and Hannes Krämer, for their constructive feedback which helped in shaping the contribution of this chapter.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Markus Kowalski
    • 1
  • Anja Danner-Schröder
    • 1
  • Gordon Müller-Seitz
    • 1
  1. 1.University of KaiserslauternKaiserslauternGermany

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