Thesis defence of Wally Keizer

News - 20 October 2016

On 28 October, Wally Keijzer will defend her thesis ‘Developing a Service Platform for Health and Wellbeing in a Living Lab Setting: an Action Design Research Approach’. She started as a doctoral candidate on 1 February 2013 and will be the first to obtain her doctorate within the TPM Graduate School. 

She even achieved this in less than four years, also with the help of her supervisor and support from the Graduate School. The fact that Wally obtains her doctorate within four years is certainly special since she worked part-time on it.  

Smart living

Wally: "Before I started at TPM as a doctoral candidate, I had just finished my MBA Cross Media. In my position as chief editor of technical journals, I was familiar with the terms ‘smart homes’ and ‘smart living’ and realised that there was a need for a digital platform so that suppliers of smart living products/services and end users could find each other better. In particular, the younger older people of the sandwich generation (aged 55-75 years) could benefit from it. In the past three years, I have been working on a platform solution within a living lab setting that could contribute in allowing elderly people to remain living independently and comfortably in their familiar environment as long as possible."

Pioneering role

In her research, Wally combined social innovation with an ICT component. It was essential for her that she was given the freedom to get to work in a practice-oriented manner. "I wanted not only to explore literature, but explicitly wanted to talk with the potential users of the platform to find out what they really needed," she explained. She used the relatively unknown research method Action Design Research (ADR) which gave her a pioneering role in the ICT section. Her research demonstrated that ADR is a fascinating research method with the necessary potential in Design Science Research. Several prototypes of the platform have already been tested successfully.

Balancing act

It was a major challenge to keep all of the stakeholders enthusiastic about living lab. Wally: "Social innovation is a challenge in real life since a balance must be found between the social impact and the right revenue models. In particular, the partners from the business community, which had committed to the living lab without financial compensation, wanted to act quickly. At the same time, sound research is required for a doctoral programme and that simply takes time." To represent all the different interests properly and ensure aspects like privacy, transparency and quality, the social innovation was embedded in a non-profit foundation called Zo-Dichtbij. This provided the necessary calm in the living lab.

Graduate school

Wally greatly appreciated the supervision provided by the Graduate School and her supervisor. In particular, the setting of the timeline and the academic support were valuable. The flexible attitude of the Graduate School was also appreciated. Wally: Given the background of my experience, I was eligible for several exemptions, which allowed me to pursue courses that were more relevant to me. For example, I had the unique opportunity to obtain quantitative and qualitative knowledge about information systems from eleven universities through the BENAIS course (Association for Information Systems Benelux Chapter). This proved to be an invaluable link to create the right focus in my research."

Follow-up research

End users, suppliers, the local authority, several universities and Wally herself would like to continue with the valorisation and making the Zo-Dichtbij platform operational. Various market parties have expressed interest in offering their services on the platform. Follow-up appointment have already been planned. "There's certainly no lack of enthusiasm," smiles Wally.


Wally will defend her thesis on 28 October at 10:00 in the Aula. Beforehand, at 09:30, she will give a general introduction. You are warmly invited to attend.