Year

2005

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

School of Management and Marketing - Faculty of Commerce

Abstract

Currently, in the process of creating innovation, some new forms of R & D collaboration are emerging, to fulfil the demands of the knowledge-based systems that must integrate industrial, scientific and commercial elements. These new forms are normally based on an integration of several participants from different institutions becoming involved in an inter- sectoral collaboration. This has been the subject of intensive study in most industrialized countries including Australia since 1980s. The Co-operative Research Centre is the Australian Government�s answer to this new emerging phenomenon. With the growing numbers of inter-sectoral collaborations especially aimed at innovation, the development of new theories in this field remains important and necessary. The current emerging theories of inter-sectoral collaboration are investigating how knowledge can be produced within such a complex environment while others are investigating how participants interact and communicate. So far, little investigation has been spent on the actual content of what is being transacted within such a complex inter sectoral collaborative R & D program, and what this (information) content and its transaction process may imply for the relationship among participants and finally how this may affect the performance of the entire collaboration. This thesis attempts to present an analysis of the above issues, taking Co-operative Research Centres (CRC) in Australia as case studies. From a theoretical perspective, the discussion in the thesis covers collaboration for innovation, information and the process of information transaction (including communication). The theoretical work also reviews the importance of the Internet in the process of information transaction in collaboration for innovation. The theoretical work pays special attention to the concepts of collaboration in the form of Mode-II Knowledge Production and the collaboration where the participants are specifically from University, Industry and Government agencies (the so-called �Triple Helix�). The main objective of the theoretical work is to develop a better model to describe the importance of information and information systems in inter sectoral R & D collaboration. This new model is called the �Newt� model. To test the validity of the Newt model, fieldwork was conducted. The test was based on a qualitative analysis of data collected by using in depth interview with several important figures from each of the collaborating participants. Three CRCs were chosen as case studies. Since the model is intended to work in all CRCs, selection of the CRCs was done very carefully. The three CRCs reflect a very high degree of difference in terms of their type of research and are totally different research activities. They are the CRC for Welded Structures, (CRC WS) the CRC for Quality Wheat, (CRC QW) and the CRC for Advanced Computational System (ACSys CRC). The thesis concludes that the CRC collaboration can be considered as a useful activity for information transaction among different participants. This activity appears to be triggered by a dominant participant with a particular type of information, and the entire process of information transaction in the CRC is based on the improvement of this particular type of information. In the process of information transaction, the role of each participant is based on the type of information being transacted. A participant who possesses this particular type of information is more dominant and more influential in the process of information transaction, resulting in an imbalance of information capacity. This information imbalance further creates a unique power relationship among these participants within the CRC collaboration. Under such circumstance, the Internet information system has a dual role, on the one hand it may enhance the process of information transaction, but on the other hand it may contribute to affect the power relationship between participants in the CRC collaboration, that is to create a master to slave relationship. This finding has policy implications. It implies that there is a need to �label� each participant of CRC based on their information capacity both in terms of the quality and quantity of information that they hold. Before a CRC application can be approved and funded, a mapping of a likely dominant participant and those who are less likely to be dominant participants must be available. Based on such �information map� the government could support the CRC collaboration program more effectively.

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