Low-technology innovation in a sectoral system: a critical realist rerspective

Nouman, Muhammad (2011) Low-technology innovation in a sectoral system: a critical realist rerspective. University of Southampton, School of Management, Doctoral Thesis , 339pp.


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This research aims to generate an in-depth understanding of the existence or nonexistence of low-technology innovation from a sectoral system of innovation (SSI) perspective. Embedded in the critical realist paradigm, this study espouses the notion of a stratified ontology. Moreover, it considers innovation to be systemic and nonsequential influenced by multiple objects and their relations. Deriving from a systematic literature review, this research addresses knowledge gaps including lack of an exclusive and all-encompassing understanding of LT innovation from the critical realist and SSI perspectives. It also addresses the lack of research on the influence of individual within firm, various sectoral elements and sectoral structure on LT innovation through use of a conceptual framework derived from systems thinking, SSI and micro-meso-macro (individual-firm-contextual) framework. Empirically rooted in the marble industry of north-west Pakistan, this research applies retroduction to explain causal mechanisms by understanding events, objects/entities, necessary and contingent relations and causal powers. Following case study approach a multiple (two) case design (embedded type 4) having two cases/sectors, Peshawar Marble Sectoral System (PeMaS) and Buner Marble Sectoral System (BuMaS) has been chosen. A case study protocol has been applied to increase reliability along with a three-phased data collection, the use of mixed methods and a two-step analysis procedure. Research outcomes reveal limited occurrences of incremental LT innovation amongst firms (events). The lack of innovation is a result of the systemic interplay of many sectoral elements identified and presented as the causal mechanisms of stasis. Moreover, the causal mechanisms that can result in LT innovation have been provided, a significant contribution that critical realism makes to the work. Seventy factors (causal powers) that explain the lack of LT innovation categorized across elements/objects and micro-meso-macro origins are discovered. These help identify the extant but latent causal powers that underlie the occurrence of LT innovation. The research makes a number of key contributions. It draws influence from critical realism to understand LT innovation and integrates its tenets with empirical work through use of mixed methods, as opposed to the predominant use of positivism and phenomenology found in previous research. It offers a unique and previously non-existent perspective of the SSI that is all-encompassing and exhaustive. Particularly, it addresses the lack of research on the sectoral elements including individual, learning processes and demand as well as the sectoral structure. Moreover, it complements the SSI approach with a first-time use of a micro-meso-macro (individual-firm-contextual) framework to offer a powerful explanation of the complex interplay within a low-tech SSI. Finally, this research addresses the lack of empirical work on LT innovation from a developing country context

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Management
ePrint ID: 192529
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
30 June 2011Made publicly available
Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2011 07:43
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 13:42
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/192529

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