Looking Ahead: Personal Reflections On Using Management Insights From Physics & Economics To Approach Pressing Societal Challenges


The Large Hadron Collider at CERN, Geneva, has been running for the past decade its intensive scientific experiments in high-energy particle physics. These experiments, which have so captured the public's imagination, take the world of physics to a new energy level — the terascale — at which elementary particles are accelerated to one millionth of a percent of the speed of light and made to smash into each other with a combined energy of around fourteen trillion electron-volts. What new world opens up at the terascale? No one really knows, but the confident expectation is that radically new phenomena will come into view. The kind of Big Science being pursued at CERN, however, is becoming ever more complex and capital-intensive. Could this approach work in the future? Could it be used elsewhere in addressing, say, societal challenges? Do the anticipated benefits justify the efforts and the costs?

Dr Markus Nordberg will be offering his personal reflections and insights into broad organizational and strategic understanding of the nature of Big Science by using one of the major experiments at the Large Hadron Collider, the ATLAS Collaboration, as an example. It examines such issues as: the flow of ‘interlaced’ knowledge between specialist teams; the intra- and inter-organizational dynamics of Big Science; the new knowledge capital being created for the workings of the experiment by individual researchers, suppliers, and e-science and ICTs; the leadership implications of a collaboration of nearly three thousand members; and the benefits for the wider societal setting using experimentation at centers such at the IdeaSquare at CERN.

In short, Markus will examine how, in the face of high levels of uncertainty and risk, ambitious scientific aims can be achieved by complex organizational networks characterized by cultural diversity, informality, and trust — and where Big Science might be heading next.


Dr Markus Nordberg is the Head of Resources Development of the Development and Innovation Unit (IPT-DI) at CERN, Switzerland. In addition to coordinating multi-disciplinary innovation projects at IdeaSquare at CERN (cern.ch/Ideasquare), he is also the coordinator the EU-funded sensor and imaging R&D&I initiative called ATTRACT aiming at both scientific and societal impact of disruptive co-innovation. Prior to this function, he served 12 years as the Resources Coordinator of the ATLAS project at CERN. He has also served as Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Centrum voor Bedrijfseconomie, Faculty ESP-Solvay Business School, University of Brussels, and as a member of the European Physical Society, Strategic Management Society and the Association of Finnish Parliament Members and Scientists, TUTKAS. He has a degree both in Physics and in Business Administration.