University of Sussex
Galdos Frisancho, Melina A..pdf (4.55 MB)

Making sense of inclusive innovation: an agency perspective on knowledge production and organisational change in developmental universities

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posted on 2023-06-10, 04:00 authored by Melina Alejandra Galdos Frisancho
This thesis investigates how agency unfolds to create enabling environments for inclusive innovation in developmental universities. Growing concerns over social inclusion in innovation have given way to the emergence of inclusive innovation as an important overarching concept guiding funding programs of multilateral agencies to direct innovation towards specific aims such as poverty alleviation and welfare improvement for low-income groups. These concerns render the question of how inclusion can become a central feature of innovation systems. Extant approaches in the literature have emphasised functionalist explanations and overstressed the role of structures in enabling change, particularly by suggesting the incorporation of innovation systems’ excluded components and the stimulation of neglected functions (Arocena et al., 2018, 2015; Foster and Heeks, 2013; Grobbelaar et al., 2016; Grobbelaar and van der Merwe, 2016). Whilst these approaches have yielded valuable insights to chart routes towards inclusive systems of innovation, the thesis argues that it is also necessary to consider the interplay between agency and structure as mutual dependencies with ongoing interaction influencing how and in what contexts inclusive practices emerge. This requires an approach that goes beyond a narrow study of structure. Therefore, this PhD bridges this divide by bringing to the fore the complex relationship between institutional set-ups, organisations’ missions, structures, and agency to expound how actors chose to produce knowledge to cater to societal needs and triggered changes in organisational interpretive schemes to create more enabling environments for inclusive innovation. This is done through a case study in three Peruvian universities. The literature review discusses the limits of functionalist arguments for explaining systems change and introduces a novel conceptual framework for the study of agency in two domains: knowledge production and organisational learning. The thesis offers a normative and evaluative framework to assess innovation in terms of inclusiveness. In the empirical chapters, it unpacks the importance of values, beliefs, and role expectations in researchers’ choices to produce knowledge for inclusive innovation projects and explains how these researchers repurposed policy instruments to match their self-perceived roles as university workers. It also explains how researchers’ agency triggered changes in organisational interpretive schemes and how these changes are reflected on reconfigurations in the governance structures of these universities. The thesis’s insights are brought together in a reflective chapter that summarises the contribution of the thesis to the understanding of inclusive innovation from a systems’ perspective and the implications for policy.


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  • eng


University of Sussex

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