Best female PhD students 2018 - Marina Bos-de Vos

News - 28 February 2019

Next Friday we celebrate the International Women’s Day. In the lead up to #IWD2019, we'll be posting profiles of our 2018 Cum Laude female PhD candidates on our Twitter account. The best female PhD student at TU Delft for 2018 will be awarded at our annual DEWIS symposium on 4 March. With this award, DEWIS rewards the quality of the PhDs dissertation and places her extraordinary achievement in the spotlights. #IWD2019 #BalanceforBetter.

 ‘Hi, my name is Marina Bos-de Vos and I’m a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer in the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering at the TU Delft. I have a background in architecture, with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Architecture, Building and Planning from Eindhoven University of Technology, and over seven years of experience as a practicing architect working in diverse multi-disciplinary projects.

Fascinated by the complexities involved in creating and capturing value through the delivery of creative services in inter-organizational projects, I decided to switch roles from being engaged in these processes to studying them. I wanted to get a better understanding of why it is so difficult to align the values that creative professionals bring in and aim for, with the interests of the many other stakeholders involved. I also hoped that insights in these processes could help creative professionals to make value-related decisions more consciously and enhance their position in the field.

In 2013, I started my PhD research on this topic, focusing on the changing role of architects and the business decisions they make in their daily project work. Having no prior experience with conducting scientific research, I went into the process quite naïvely and soon found myself overwhelmed by the richness of theories and methodologies from many fields. Although I did not know what my actions would lead to, I decided to combine aspects that I found really insightful and started to learn from different disciplines. I believe that may background in design really made it possible for me to do that. Being used to work towards uncertain outcomes, I just started following the direction that emerged from my intuition and the guidance of others.

Inspired by literature from strategic management, I specifically dove into architects’ processes of capturing value. Existing value capture theories that, for example, underlie the common conceptualisation of a business model, remain focused on monetary value, while non-monetary dimensions of value are equally or arguably even more important in the creative industry. This makes it very difficult to apply existing business knowledge and tools in the development and negotiation of value in creative contexts, especially when working in multiple projects that are all unique, mutually dependent, and continuously evolving over time. My research contributes to understanding business from a project-specific and multidimensional perspective. It provides empirical evidence showing how tensions between different types of use value, financial value and professional value, as well as potential value slippage can be managed strategically in and across projects.

What I personally really like about my research, is the fact that the scientific insights have been synthesized into a practical toolkit, which facilitates creative professionals in identifying, evaluating and communicating the values and value-related decisions in their work in a comprehensive and structured manner. The toolkit enables actors to make better informed decisions on whether to go for a certain project, helps collaborating actors to align their expectations, and provides them with a way to strengthen and safeguard their designed approach over time. The toolkit has been developed in close collaboration with practitioners and is now extensively used in education, by architectural firms and the Royal Institute of Dutch Architects, which I’m of course very proud of.

Currently, I work on expanding my PhD research in two ways. First, in collaboration with colleagues from the Faculty of Architecture, the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, with the input of students, professionals and academics across the globe, and with the support of the Delft Design for Values Institute, we are developing a 3-minute animated tutorial that allows anybody to teach or practice designing for values in a financially and professionally responsible manner. The tutorial and toolkit can easily be incorporated into courses or used by professionals to assess their business approach in a creative project and is intended to make the topic of business accessible and fun to work on. Second, I work on gaining a better understanding of how to collaboratively design business models for multi-stakeholder innovation projects. Studying the collective experimentation practices of heterogeneous actors innovating for systemic change in the field of healthcare, I aim to develop insights and tools that allow creative professionals to deal with tensions in value creation and capturing in business to business ecosystems. Either to design their own business models or to help others design theirs’. I believe that understanding and making accessible the process of collectively designing business models in highly complex settings is important as organizations and individual actors will increasingly need each other to add value to users, clients, society and themselves. With the two projects, I will continue to follow my aspiration to establish fruitful links between academic research, practice and teaching and I’m curious to see what the future may bring.’ 

Read all the interviews with all female Cum Laude PhD students of 2017-2018 here.