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Pitt, CA 2007, 'Leading innovation and entrepreneurship an action research study in the Australian red meat industry', DBA thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright CA Pitt 2007


The dynamic and often hostile competitive landscape of the twenty-first century has created significant threats to existing patterns of successful competition. A review of the extant literature and research about innovation and entrepreneurship identifies their importance to ensuring corporate vitality and wealth generation in today’s global economy. For over one hundred and

fifty years the foundation of Australia’s prosperity has been from resource based industries such as agriculture and mining. Changes in the world economy clearly require a much broader range of globally competitive industries to sustain Australia’s strong economic position. It is proposed that the older more traditional industries must also undergo rapid transformation if they are to maintain their competitive advantage.

This thesis describes an action research study conducted over four years (2002-2006) in the Australian red meat industry. The study aimed to extend the body of knowledge on innovation and entrepreneurship in the industry. It also sought to explore options for improving practice through interventions which would accelerate the development of firm innovation capabilities and a culture of innovation more broadly across the industry.

The thesis articulates a comprehensive contextual framework of the sector’s innovation and entrepreneurship system and an associated model of firm innovation and entrepreneurial capability. In addition, a new methodology for mapping the effectiveness of an innovation system is developed based on the emerging concept of system failures. By applying this methodology, a new SI-Intervention Framework is developed and a suite of intervention projects is tested for acceptance and potential impact with industry participants.

It is proposed that the thesis offers a contribution to knowledge through convergence of the related fields of innovation and entrepreneurship into a single conceptual framework. In addition, the development of new theoretical and analytical models and methodologies build on and extend the work of previous researchers. Evidence of improved practice is demonstrated in relation to incorporation of the new framework and methodologies into the industry’s future innovation strategy, building internal capability in the innovation intervention agency, and acceptance by industry participants of the new approach.

It is acknowledged that the models and concepts articulated in this thesis are at an early stage of development and that there is a significant amount of further research required. Similarly, as the study is focused on a single case, no attempt is made to offer broad generalisations. The value of the study will ultimately be determined by the specifics of future research contexts and can only be evaluated to the extent that it seems accurate, appropriate and authentic from the reader’s own perspective.