Advancing social relationships in innovation networks and their commercialization success in Malaysian public universities

PhD Thesis

Abdul Razak, Arbaiah. 2016. Advancing social relationships in innovation networks and their commercialization success in Malaysian public universities. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland.

Advancing social relationships in innovation networks and their commercialization success in Malaysian public universities

TypePhD Thesis
AuthorAbdul Razak, Arbaiah
SupervisorMurray, Peter A.
Roberts, David
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages290

The start of the 21st century is marked by profound changes in applied knowledge in economy, technology and society - among others. Knowledge has become the modern day commodity, where innovation plays the main role in knowledge creation and implementation. Consequently, innovation is central for individual and organisational performance, for social and economic development of nations. Economists have conceptualised innovation as an agent of growth, while technologists have viewed innovation as an agent of change. Others have taken innovation from social perspectives where individuals are the agent for innovative actions that are connected and interacted within a network system. Thus, the ontological position of this research examines individual innovative behaviour during interactions with other innovation actors.

Generally, there is an issue for university research outputs to be effectively commercialised. In Malaysia, about 95% of university research outputs fail to commercialise (OECD 2013) although substantial resources (in terms of human, intellectual, financial and technological) for innovation are available. The problem is that many Malaysian universities work in isolation without networking, and poor links exist between university and industry. Malaysian university collaborations have not yet reached a satisfactory level because there is a lack of capability in strengthening relationships in innovation networks. Hence, this research develops and tests a conceptual framework related to the ineffective management of social relationships within innovation networks and the lack of success of commercialisation attempts in Malaysian universities.

Scholars have defined social relationships as a process of human interactions where social resources or capital is created and exchanged within a network that influences individual’s specific behaviours and their next actions. However, social resources critical for innovation relationships are not fully understood. This research examines the importance of social resources related to openness, trust, motivation and leadership. Following extant research, these four themes are used as a basis to explore the relationship between innovation and commercialisation success in the Malaysian public university sector. In this research context, university researchers (or academics) are regarded as the innovation actors.

The philosophical paradigm for this research was of the pragmatism view. A sequential mixed-methods research design was implemented to investigate this practice-oriented research problem. Both qualitative and quantitative methodologies were mixed by using individuals as unit of analysis. A minor qualitative research that involved ten expert interviews and content analysis was initially conducted, prior to a major quantitative research that used field survey and statistical analysis. The qualitative stage helped to confirm the research problem, to validate the preliminary conceptual framework and to refine the survey instrument. In the quantitative stage, a larger data set was used to allow a power statistical analysis, to answer the research questions and to establish a model about innovation network relationships management in Malaysian public universities.

The main findings of this research are based on the final model generated by both theories and data that meet all statistical conditions. This research found that open innovation and strategic leadership significantly influence commercialisation success. In particular, strategic leadership emerged as a dominant factor where it has a highly significant direct relationship with commercialisation success, and more importantly, it mediates significantly an indirect relationship between open innovation and successful commercialisation. This indicated that open innovation practices and strategic leadership skills facilitate mutual sharing of resources and enculturation of innovative behaviours which are critical for commercialisation success strategies. Thus, these findings have significantly contributed to explaining the research problem for managing and advancing social relationships and innovation networks in Malaysian public universities.

The results of this research are expected to add to the knowledge of innovation and commercialisation in a public university sector within a developing country; it may also be possible to generalise the results internationally. Despite the research contributions, the findings should, however, be considered on theoretical, methodological and practical limitations that provide avenues for future research.

Keywordsopen innovation; strategic leadership; social relationships; commercialisation success; public university, Malaysia
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390303. Higher education
359999. Other commerce, management, tourism and services not elsewhere classified
380104. Economics of education
Byline AffiliationsSchool of Management and Enterprise
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Open innovation in universities: the relationship between innovation and commercialisation
Abdul Razak, Arbaiah, Murray, Peter A. and Roberts, David. 2014. "Open innovation in universities: the relationship between innovation and commercialisation." Knowledge and Process Management (Print Edition): the journal of corporate transformation. 21 (4), pp. 260-269.