The application of (scientific) methods and tools for management, engineering and design is core to our system innovation engineering approach. It enables the conduction of structured innovation workshops and events with the pro-active inclusion of all stakeholders. As presented in below chapters, we rely on a variety of proven methods and tools. Please also consider our innovation method toolbox.

Action research is a research method used in social or organizational science in which researchers and participants of a research situation are involved with each other in a cooperative and participatory way. The researcher observes a real-life situation while simultaneously trying to understand and improve the situation. This research method allows the use of theoretic research to find solutions for the identified problems while also generating knowledge by studying the effects of the propsed actions.

Design Research is used among other fields in operation research and information systems. Researches focus on developing a solution for a real-life problem and evaluate it in real-life. The goal is not necessarily to find a perfect solution, but rather a better solution than existing ones.

Both research methods, design research and action research generate new knowledge through theoretical contributions and the generation of practical improvementsin real-life situations. 


Using performance metrics to compare businesses, processes and services to other businesses, process and services, best-practics or strategic targets through specific indicators is called benchmarking.
The balanced scorecard is a benchmarking tool for evaluating a company’s long-term strategic objectives.
Its goal is to extend the practice to only use financial performance indicator that was common at that time.
By adding performance measures to the financial metrics, a broader perspective of the company’s health and acitivities can be received as well as an organizing framework to bind short-term activities to long-term objectives.
Therefore, the balanced scorecard can be used as a tool for analysing and benchmarking a company and also to implement strategic goals on the operating level.


The business model canvas is a template for developing new or documenting existing business models and is mostly used in strategic management.
The business model canvas consists of 4 categories and 9 subcategories that are to be filled in to gain an understanding of the business model.
The advantage of this method is the easy and comprehensible documentation of the important factors, circumstances and interdependencies with other entities, when developing a new or documenting or evaluating an existing business model.
It also highlights the customer values of a business model and is therefore compatible with Design Thinking.

 Business Model Canvas

Case study research is an established research methodology in the area of social science and economics.
The first step in the research is to evaluate wether a case study is an appropriate research method for the research topic.
When designing the case study, the researcher has to decide on a single or multiple case study.
The cases in multiple case studies allow for comparison and the cases should be selected by following a replication rather than sampling to allow for comprehensive comparison.
After collecting the data, the researcher needs to analyse the data through either pattern matching, explanation building, time-series analysis, logic models or cross-case synthesis.


Design Thinking is an umbrella term for an iterative innovation process.
It focuses on a user-centered approach to develop innovation that fullfills the need of customers, users, or in the case of public service innovation, of citizien.
The value of design thinking is especially apparent for solving difficult problems, which means they are ill-defined or tricky.
Design Thinking is often used in software development, which uses techniques such as user-centered design and human-centered design and approaches software conceptions in an iterative manner. Nowadays, it is also employed in public administration, because the focus on the end user of a solution in the design process fits well with the principles of New Public Governance. This paradigm fosters a bottom-up approach including citizens early on in policy design.
There are very many different approaches to Design Thinking, which varies on the organization using it and goal of the process. It typically follows six phases, that are repeated until a sufficient solution is developed: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test, Assess.


Open innovation is a terminology that describes an innovation process that includes outside sources of knowledge into an organization.
There are two important aspects to open innovation: Firstly, integrating external knowledge and expertise into an organization. Secondly, sharing knowledge in innovation networks with others.
Common barriers to open innovation processes are a lack of engagement of participants and the challenge to integrate the results of the open innovation process in the internal structures.
Using open innovation in policy development is becoming of increasing importance, as the involvement of citizen is increasingly valued by public administrations.
Using a lab structure is an approach widely used in EU policy making, with as many as 64 labs identified by a survey in 2016. Instead on using a linear approach to decision making, they employ techniques such as user-centered design, design thinking and data analytics to develop solutions with the user or citizen in mind. Living labs can consist for example of workshops & hackathons with stakeholder participation and research that focuses on citizen and future demands are actions taken in innovation labs.

European Living Labs: A new approach for human centric regional innovation

Living Labs – the User as Co-Creator

 Living Lab Vorarlberg


SWOT-Analysis is a strategic planning technique developed by the Harvard Business School in the 1960s. It is used to analyse the competitiveness of businesses and organisations.
Nowadays, SWOT-Analysis is not only used to evaluate businesses, but also the competitiveness for example of cities, regions and nations and public sector organizations.
PESTLE-Analysis is a framework for environmental scanning used in strategic management or market research. It can be used to understand potential for market growth but also decline and therefor be used to decide about business direction in the future.
It includes six factors: Political, Econonomic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental factors. A shorter version of the PESTLE-Analysis is the PEST-Analysis, which only takes the first four factors into account.


Systems are defined as regularly interacting or interdependent groups of items forming a unified whole.
They can be found everywhere and in this increasingly globalised world, complex systems continuously spring to life.
For example, businesses from different nations are tied together in complex supply chain systems or technological networks compound high numbers of nodes and are increasingly interdependend with other systems.
System Thinking is an analytic skill set, that allows to perform problem solving in complex systems.
Understanding an existing system or creating a new system can be achieved using a Systems Approach.
Systems thinking is an approach that can be used working as a single researcher or in a team during a workshop or brainstorming sessions. There are many tools that can be used, for example for identifying the elements and environments, SWOT-Analysis, Business Modell Canvas or Mind Maps can be useful.

 System Thinking

More Information About Business Intelligence & Innovation Hub


Prof. (FH) Dr.-Ing. Jens Schumacher
Leiter Forschungszentrum Business Informatics, Hochschullehrer

+43 5572 792 7118


Dr. Florian Maurer
Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter

+43 5572 792 7128