No Simple Solutions: How Sectoral Innovation Systems Can Be Transformed : Key Findings from the Australian Innovation Systems (AUSIS) Project

Scott-Kemmis, Don, Holmen, Magnus, Balaguer, Antonio, Dalitz, Robert, Bryant, Kevin, Jones, Alan J., & Matthews, Judy H. (2005) No Simple Solutions: How Sectoral Innovation Systems Can Be Transformed : Key Findings from the Australian Innovation Systems (AUSIS) Project. Australian National University, Canberra.

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY This study is concerned with change in the factors that drive and support innovation, focusing on the influences of business behaviour and industrial dynamics. The study draws on seven sectoral case studies: computer games, dairy products, mineral exploration, motor vehicles, oil and gas engineering services, photovoltaics, and wine. It develops a framework that recognises both the strongly systemic nature of innovation and the inexorable processes of transformation in an increasingly international competitive context. It brings together sectoral innovation system approaches and frameworks for analysing industrial dynamics and sectoral transformation.

All the sectors investigated have become more complex over time. And this is most relevant to innovation systems study. There are now larger markets, more types of organisations, a broader and deeper knowledgebase, and more technologies. Consequently, specialisation and the division of labour have increased in all seven sectors studied. These changes in turn provide new business opportunities.

To illustrate some of the findings, successful firms in our world-leading mineral exploration and wine sectors have become internationally competitive through changes in product innovations and process innovations. New patterns of innovation emerged through the development of good interactions between several types of organisations. The size and nature of demand has also been influenced by Australian firms in these successful sectors. It is also notable that changes in activities, start-up of new organisations and changes in the relationships between others (such as firms and research organisations) have transformed these sectors, not just in Australia, but worldwide.

Continuing globalisation will increase the pressure to specialise, forcing the need to increase the depth of knowledge and producing closer interaction and collaboration across sectors. The process of increasing specialisation also provides opportunities for entrepreneurs and opportunities to create and grow new sectors. The ongoing pressure to innovate and specialise means innovation policy is increasingly important for the future economic wellbeing of a nation. Important too, is that the relative ease of the emergence and growth of new sectors can be considerably affected by public policy, and thus growth and the future economic structure of the nation is significantly influenced by innovation policy and other related policies.

The framework and the sector studies show a close interaction between innovation, competition and how the benefits from innovation are captured as firms respond to the sequences of opportunities and problems they face. The study shows two main ways in which firms benefit from innovation. The first applies in sectors dominated by mass production, while the second is associated with sectors dominated by ‘blockbusters’— where a single business controls a product, production facility or service that enables it to hold a substantial share of the overall market. Each of these ways (which are not necessarily mutually exclusive) are associated with particular patterns of innovation.

Innovation changes societies and economies—over time the cumulative effect of many changes results in radical transformation. But innovation remains a complex and elusive phenomenon. The study argues for ongoing investigation of its relationship to the dynamics of industry. Innovation presents both opportunities and problems—but no simple solutions.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 13267
Item Type: Book
Additional Information: For more information about this book please refer to the publisher's website (see link) or contact the author. This publication can be freely accessed online via the additional URL (see hypertext link).
It should be noted that the work on which this report has been based was undertaken under the terms of a Linkage Grant from the Australian Research Council. The authors are grateful for generous additional support (under the terms of that grant) from the Australian Business Foundation, and the Australian Government departments of Industry Tourism and Resources and Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. They are also grateful for subsequent support generously provided by CSIRO and the Department of Communications, IT and the Arts. It should be stressed that the views expressed in this report are strictly those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of any of these organisations.
The authors are grateful to Clarity Communications Australia for their assistance in the editing and presentation of this report. Requests and enquiries should be addressed to Associate Professor D. Scott-Kemmis, Innovation Management
and Policy Program, National Graduate School of Management, The Australian National University, Canberra
ACT 0200, Australia. Alternatively, email
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Innovation, Australia, Innovation systems, sectoral transformation, technology, case studies
ISBN: 064644870
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300) > Innovation and Technology Management (150307)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2005 Australian National University
Deposited On: 09 Apr 2008 00:00
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2011 13:36

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