Collaborative regional organisational networks : cultivating regional knowledge diffusion to become globally competitive

Fourie, Colin Ralph (2015-04)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The thesis takes as its focus collaborative regional organisational networks. It is argued that in knowledge intensive sectors, such collaboration clusters are an important factor for being competitive in a global economy. To substantiate this claim, both a regional case study of the KwaZulu-Natal Information and Communications and Electronics Technology (ICTE) cluster forum is undertaken and a single firm case of MicroVision Software, a member of the cluster forum. The introductory chapter provides background about the global extent of collaborative activity especially in the high technology and knowledge-intensive sectors. Chapter 2 examines how regions across the world have developed strategies to grow and maintain their economic strengths in the knowledge economy. This is primarily described through two reference cases studies. The case of the Humberside Training and Enterprise Council (TEC) conducted by Fryer, comprising around 70 organisations, is an example of how the principles of complexity theory can be implemented to yield a network model based on autonomy, connectivity, feedback, community and leadership. This case provides a reference model for how to provide an enabling environment for collaborative knowledge networks. The flat panel display (FPD) research done by Spencer demonstrates the effectiveness of successful regional strategies for convergent, knowledge-diffusion networks. Spencer’s work shows that whilst most FPD technologies were initially invented in US laboratories in the 1960s, all portable computers produced after 1989 contained Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) screens that were primarily manufactured in Asia. Spencer found that regions were most competitive when the regional knowledge-diffusion networks are at their highest density levels and when guided by a strategic centre. Chapter 3 turns to the macro case study of the KZN ICTE Cluster Forum. The forum was established to address factors identified in a study commissioned by the KZN DEDT, which found that whilst the electronics sector in KZN has many innovative firms and skilful graduates, knowledge diffusion networks are virtually non-existent. The case study shows how this forum tried to encourage collaboration, but failed to accomplish most of its goals. Chapter 4 provides a micro case study of a particular organisation, MicroVision Software, that participated in the KZN ICTE Cluster Forum. The case takes the form of participatory or action research, because it is about the author's own journey as an entrepreneur. The case study shows the critical role that network ties and networked organisation played in the projects undertaken. It is shown how the organisation underwent many phases of re-invention as a result of changes in the ICT environment. It is argued that the various education management systems developed, which involve large systems integration challenges, can only succeed if a clustered organisation is developed around it. The concluding chapter considered how the ICTE Cluster Forum could be re-invigorated, given the lessons from the reference case studies.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis fokus op organisatoriese streeksamewerkingsnetwerke. Hierin word daar argumenteer dat in kennis intensiewe sektore in die globale ekonomie sulke samewerkingsnetwerke ‘n sentrale kompeterende faktor is. Om hierdie stelling te bevestig word twee gevallestudies ondersoek, naamlik die KwaZulu-Natal Information and Communications and Electronics Technology (ICTE) groepsforum en ‘n enkele firma, MicroVision Software, wat ‘n lid is van hierdie forum. Die inleidende hoofstuk skets die agtergrond van die globale omvang van samewerkingsnetwerke met die klem op die hoë tegnologie- en kennis- intensiewe sektore. Hoofstuk 2 ondersoek hoe streke wêreldwyd strategieë ontwikkel het om hulle ekonomieë te groei en hulle ekonomiese voordeel te handhaaf in die kennis- ekonomie. Dit word hoofsaaklik beskryf met die hulp van twee gevallestudies wat as verwysingspunt dien vir die latere gevallestudies wat uitgevoer is. Die geval van Humberside Training and Enterprise Council (TEC), ‘n ondersoek van ongeveer 70 organisasies deur Fryer, is ‘n voorbeeld van hoe die beginsels van kompleksiteitsteorie geimplimenteer kan word om ‘n netwerkmodel te vestig wat geskoei is op outonomie, konneksies, terugvoerlusse, en leierskap. Die geval bied ‘n verwysingsraamwerk vir die skep van ‘n vrugbare omgewing vir samewerkende kennisnetwerke. Die platpaneelskerm (Flat Panel Display) industrie navorsing deur Spencer demonsteer die effektiwiteit van suksesvolle streekstrategieë vir uiteenlopende, kennisgebaseerde verspreidingsnetwerke. Spencer se werk illustreer dat alhoewel die meeste platpaneelskerm-navorsing aanvanklik in Amerikaanse laboratoria plaasgevind het, alle skootrekenaars wat na 1989 vervaardig is, vloeikristalskerms (LCD) wat van Asië afkomstig was bevat het. Spencer het bevind dat areas hoogs kompeterend was wanneer kennisgebaseerde verspreidingsnetwerke op sy hoogste digtheidsvlakke was en deur ‘n strategiese sentrum bestuur is. Hoofstuk 3 fokus op die makro gevallestudie van die KZN ICTE groepsforum. Die forum is gestig om kwessies wat geїdentifiseer is in ‘n studie aangevra deur die KZN DEDT aan te spreek. Dié studie het bevind dat alhoewel die elektronika sektor in KZN bestaan uit baie innoverende firmas en bedien is deur bekwame graduandi, het kennisgebaseerde verspreidingsnetwerke feitlik nie bestaan nie. Die studie toon hoe hierdie forum samewerking aangemoedig het, maar tog gefaal het in die meeste van sy doelwitte. Hoofstuk 4 bied ‘n mikro gevallestudie van ‘n spesifieke maatskappy, Microvision Software, wat deel was van die KZN ICTE groepsforum. Dit handel oor die outeur se eie wedervaringe as ‘n entrepreneur en is dus aksie navorsing. Dié gevallestudie belig die kritiese rol wat netwerke gespeel het in die sukses van die projekte wat die maatskappy onderneem het. Dit wys hoe die maatskappy verskillende fases van herontdekking en herposisionering as gevolg van voortdurende verandering in die inligtingstegnologie-landskap ondergaan het. Daar word geargumenteer dat die verskeie opvoedkundige bestuurstelsels ,wat grootskaalse integrasieuitdagings bied, slegs suksesvol kan wees wanneer daar ‘n samewerkingsnetwerk daar rondom gevestig word. Die finale hoofstuk oorweeg die moontlikhede van herlewing en bemagtiging van die ICTE groepsforum.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/97096
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