Question 1: Can you briefly introduce yourself by emphasizing the founding elements of your various experiences (engineering, research, teaching…)?
I hold a master’s degree from the Faculty of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering at the Tirana Polytechnic University in Albania and began my research career in 1986 in Albania as a research engineer at the Institute of Metallurgical Studies. As soon as I arrived in France, I began preparing a thesis in Geosciences, defended in 1995 (Institut National Polytechnique de Lorraine, Nancy). From 1996 to 1999, I worked as a consultant before joining ICN in 2000 as a teacher-researcher. Two visiting professorships at the College of Management of Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, USA (4 months in 2004 and 6 months in 2009) allowed me to perfect and enrich my profile as a researcher in Management Sciences and give it an international dimension. Since I joined the ICN, my activities can be grouped into three parts: research, teaching and administration (responsibility for new educational technologies from 2002-2009).
Question 2: Can you tell us why you decided to focus your career on teaching and research in a business school?
I started teaching at ICN in 1996 as an external lecturer. My courses covered computer tools for managers, optimization and programming, and the design of relational databases. At the same time, as part of my liberal activity as a consultant, I have developed teaching materials (35 books in the collection ‘ICN Pédagogie’, 13 of which have been published in a national ESKA collection, 68 teaching manuals, CD-ROMs, etc.). In 2000, my recruitment at ICN was motivated by two factors: my teaching activities and the management of teaching materials for the school; my profile as an engineer-doctor of foreign culture, in line with the Artem concept. This has encouraged the development of transdisciplinary approaches from the beginning.
…an atypical profile but in symbiosis with Artem’s ideals…
Question 3: your profile is more like that of a “follower” of the so-called hard sciences. What can this type of profile bring to teaching and research in a school such as ICN?
My profile has not stopped evolving since I joined ICN. As you say, at the beginning of my management career and because of my training in the “hard” sciences, I was more of a “fan” of binary or dichotomous solutions such as “yes/no”, “true/false” or “white/black”. Then, little by little and thanks to the very collaborative and friendly environment from which I have benefited as a member of the ICN team, I began to realize that the behaviour of managers, working in an increasingly global and complex context, could not be explained only by “hard” or “soft” approaches but rather with holistic and integrative approaches taking into account a whole set of elements including feelings and emotions.
…the behaviour of managers…which can be explained rather by holistic and integrative approaches…
Question 4: Which of your recent works do you think are close to your ideal of research work for ICN?
Most of my research is multidisciplinary and approaches this ideal. If only some of them should be presented, I would mention two research papers published as part of the IRCASE Chair: “The value of beauty for organizations” and “Science-fiction literature as inspiration for social theorizing within sustainability research” (Journal of Cleaner Production), “Transdisciplinary study of sustainable enterprise” (Business Strategy and the Environment magazine) .
Question 5: More generally, how do you see research and studies in business schools and more specifically at ICN?
I agree with the conclusions of a recent FNEGE study that research in business schools must be more open to companies, more useful for students and have a greater impact. For ICN, to make a long story short, the research must be original (“artemized” i.e. focused mainly on creativity, innovation and sustainable development), transdisciplinary (to enable stakeholders to understand problems and share solutions), solution-oriented (open to business needs), and understandable (to enable managers to understand and apply it).
… at ICN,… the research must be original, transdisciplinary, solution-oriented and understandable….
Question 6: You have acquired international experience in teaching and research, how do you put this experience at the service of your students or your fellow teacher-researchers?
Quality scientific research requires collaborative work at the institutional, national and international levels. Throughout my career, I have been committed to sharing my international experiences with my colleagues and students by playing the card of an ICN team rather than that of an individual. Some examples: the development of the IRCASE Chair, recently transformed into a UNESCO Chair, is the result of collaboration and sharing of my experiences with my foreign colleagues; the MESD conference cycle is the result of my stays at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the United States; finally, my research themes are often the choice of my students (module projects, subjects of their theses, etc.). Finally, the long list of my co-authors reflects my willingness to share and put my experience at the service of ICN as a whole.
Question 7: Some time ago, you joined the editorial team of the International Review of Psychosociology and Management of Organizational Behavior (RIPCO). What are the benefits of managing this journal?
The creation and distribution of scientific knowledge is part of the job of a teacher-researcher. I would even say that it is our duty. As I said at the beginning of the interview, my publishing activities have been with me since the beginning of my career in Management Sciences. Therefore, the management of this review is a logical continuation of these activities. The objective of this very ambitious project is to ensure that RIPCO reaches a very high level of scientific excellence at the national and international levels while at the same time modernizing itself.
Question 8: Can the arguments and concepts presented or defended in RIPCO serve as a basis for teaching at school or as a basis for future school research?
The editorial line of the journal refers to the study of the structure, functioning and performance of organizations, as well as the behaviour of groups and individuals within them. In other words, the review aims to contribute to the understanding, explanation and improvement of the behaviours of individuals and teams in organizations. It then seems very clear to me that its editorial line and multidisciplinary nature already serve as a basis for teaching at school such as human resources management, organizational management, etc. RIPCO can also be considered as a source of inspiration for the school’s future research work.
…International and publishing experiences made available to ICN…
Question 9: Your training and early experiences are more focused, in a somewhat schematic way, on quantitative analysis (which I believe you continue to teach). Can you explain to us why you became interested in psychosociology and organizational behaviour management?
Since my arrival at ICN, I think I have made an extraordinary epistemological journey in Management Sciences by addressing subjects from several disciplines (human resources, information systems, marketing, strategy, entrepreneurship,…) and several methodologies as well as theoretical as quantitative and qualitative. I am convinced that in order to find a real solution to a research question, it is necessary to adopt the appropriate methodology that mixes the methods, disciplines and stakeholders of the problem. It would be contrary to the profile I have become through this journey to settle down on a single method or discipline.
Question 10: Can we say that you have practiced a great gap or that there is a common thread that runs through all these areas that you have embraced?
I give you a very good point for this “thorny” question. This is the question I am currently asking myself for my HDR orientation. I will then give you the scoop on this news, but without any certainty as to the common thread. I believe that most of my research focuses on one of the levels of analysis of organizational behaviour: individual, group or organizational.
…. Work focused on one of the levels of analysis of organizational behaviour….
Associate Professor at ICN BS, President of the MESD Association and Editor-in-Chief of the journal RIPCO, Silvester Ivanaj holds a PhD in Engineering and another in Management Sciences. He is co-founder of the MESD International Conference Series (www.mesd.org) and co-founder and coordinator of the IRCASE International Chair (www.ircase.org). His research work covering several fields has been published in international academic journals such as Journal of Technological Forecasting and Change, Journal of World Business, IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, International Journal of Technology Management, Journal of Organizational and End User Computing, etc. He is also author or co-author of 6 books and three special issues of academic journals. He has also received several awards including the ICN Business School Pedagogical Innovation Award in 2015