Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Sydney Business School


This thesis addresses the tensions within rigid efficient systems that support the routine processes of productive institutions and the perceived disruptive innovations required for the sustainable development of those institutions in changing dynamic complex environments. The researcher’s experience (Phase One) as outlined in Chapter Two has motivated reflective research (Phase Two) on introducing innovation into hierarchical institutions, including the role of rigid efficient systems, managing wicked-type problems, the appropriate handling of exceptions to general rules and how to improve didactic communication within silo-based legacy systems. Phase Two is presented as a single case dominated by the tensions between the researcher and the institution regarding the introduction of a perceived disruptive technology. The narrative-based ethnographic approach was supplemented with a Leximancer text analysis of the relevant documents which detected the diverse perceptions of various stakeholders and displayed the uncovered themes, and concepts, as maps. Cultural Historical Activity Theory has been utilised as a framework to interpret these maps and identify tensions and systemic contradictions and their possible roles in addressing difficulties faced by higher degree researchers investigating innovative activities in university settings. The research findings led to the development of a modified informer framework that will help to overcome many of the type of systemic communication problems uncovered. The researcher also undertook an online review of intellectual property policies and related commercialisation guidelines in universities throughout Australia and developed a number of strategies to help overcome identified barriers likely to discourage the participation on campus of internet start-ups, small businesses or private individuals (with early-stage inventions or intellectual property) wishing to undertake worthwhile research with overt commercial outcomes.