In the world of academic research, it’s common to embark on a journey with a specific destination in mind (at least that was my path). Guided by established theories and prior studies, we often believe we know where our research will take us. My recent experience with a case study on innovation ecosystems, particularly focusing on environmental sustainability, was a humbling reminder of the unpredictable nature of inquiry.

As is the beauty—and sometimes, the frustration—of qualitative research (though it’s worth noting that surprises aren’t exclusive to this methodology), I was in for some revelations, when taking a closer look at how companies carry out projects…

… As I was delving into the practices of companies engaged in green transition projects, I encountered a case that exemplifies this perfectly: the renowned CopenHill facility in Copenhagen.

Source: (Rasmus Hjortshoj, Architect Magazine:

CopenHill is an example of a new breed of sustainability projects that are simultaneously functional and hedonistic. With its waste-to-energy plant, ski slope, and restaurant, CopenHill epitomizes the concept of “hedonistic sustainability”, a term brought to life by Bjarke Ingels, the architect behind the facility (Estika et al., 2020). Aimed at merging environmental responsibility with pleasure and aesthetic appeal, many of these new facilities stand as a testament to the interconnectedness of green projects with the social, cultural, and environmental fabric of their communities. They are “history-dependent and organizationally-embedded units of analysis” (Engwall, 2003), each following a unique trajectory influenced by a variety of factors.

Thus, the creation of such multifaceted projects involves a collaborative effort extending beyond the realms of engineering or business. To assess their success or failure, there is an increasing need to adopt inter- or multi-disciplinary approaches, as their implementation and development cannot be fully understood or effectively managed through a single field of knowledge. Instead, it requires the collaboration and integration of diverse disciplines, as I have come to realize. For this reason, the current findings of my case study research are steering me in a more sociological direction, to better understand the complexities of the green transition. In pursuit of this, I have enrolled in an immersive three-day course at Aarhus University, where I’ll delve into various sociological theories, including Actor-Network Theory and Transition Theory, to name a few. My aim is to enrich my comprehension of the historical and environmental contexts that surround my case study.

Of course, I’m eager to share my discoveries along the way, so stay tuned for more updates and revelations!



Engwall, M. (2003). No project is an island: Linking projects to history and context. Research Policy, 32(5), 789–808.

Estika, N. D., Kusuma, Y., Prameswari, D. R., & Sudradjat, I. (2020). The hedonistic sustainability concept in the works of Bjarke Ingels. ARTEKS : Jurnal Teknik Arsitektur, 5(3), 339–346.

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