«The contribution of collective action to the commercialisation of high technology Microsystem technology in the Netherlands Master Thesis Science & ...»
The contribution of collective action to the
commercialisation of high technology
Microsystem technology in the Netherlands
Master Thesis Science & Innovation Management
R. A. Peters BSc
Student number: 0455180
Copernicus Institute, Research Institute for Sustainable Development, Utrecht University
prof. dr. ir. H. van Lente
Willem C. van Unnik Building
3584 CS UTRECHT
T: +31(0)30 253 23 59
E: email@example.com I: www.geo.uu.nl MinacNed, Association for Microsystems and Nanotechnology drs. J. C. Groeneveld M. A. Reinhold Dodeweg 6B Dodeweg 6B P.O. Box 366 P.O. Box 366 3830 AK LEUSDEN 3830 AK LEUSDEN The Netherlands The Netherlands T: +31 (0)33 465 75 07 T: +31 (0)33 465 75 07 E: firstname.lastname@example.org E: email@example.com I: www.minacned.nl I: www.minacned.nl October 2011 Contents Contents
2 Theories of collective action
2.1 Clusters and networks
2.2 Coordination within networks
2.3 Mobilisation of resources and attention for networks
2.4 Representation of networks to the outside world
3 Operationalisation and data
5.1 C2V-200 Micro Gas Chromatograph
5.1.1 Product market technology combination
5.2 IQ+ Mass Flow Sensor
5.2.1 Product market technology combination
5.3 Medimate Multireader
5.3.1 Product market technology combination
5.4 Microcryogenic Cooler
5.4.1 Product market technology combination
The contribution of collective action to the commercialisation of high technology 5.4.4 Coordination
5.5.1 Product market technology combination
5.6 MST Windmeter
5.6.1 Product market technology combination
6.1 Actions and organising entities
10 Documents and Internet Sources
10.2 Internet Sources
Appendix A: Topic List Interview
The contribution of collective action to the commercialisation of high technology Abstract In the development of new technologies, actors will pursue their private interests, but they may also try to improve the conditions for the new technology in general. This we call ‘collective action’. In this thesis, the contribution of collective action in the commercialisation process of high technology is investigated, following indications that this occurs and is intended to benefit industries as a whole. By means of conducting interviews with involved actors, performing document analysis, six cases of innovation in the microsystem technology industry in the Netherlands are reconstructed, in which the contribution of collective action is investigated. Aspects under observation are: the coordination within networks, the mobilisation of resources and attention in networks, and the representation of networks to the outside world. Finding partners to cooperate with was found to be important for the success of commercialising microsystem technology, but no clarity on the role of collective action was found. The mobilisation of resources was very important for acquiring public funding, collective action positively influences this. The mobilisation of attention and the representation also profited from collective action, but innovators regard the involvement of users as very important. Current collective action leaves room for improving this. Future research should focus on the macro scale effects of collective action as well as incorporate quantitative analysis.
1 Introduction Together with nanotechnology, microsystem technology represents a promising wave of new technology in the 21st century (Kassicieh, Kirchhoff, Walsh, & McWhorter, 2002; Walsh, 2004), but microsystem technology is currently further developed and closer to the market. Microsystem technology is characterised by the efficiency, flexibility, and safety gains of miniaturisation. Processes in which microsystem technology proves its added value are in particular chemical or biological (Kassicieh et al., 2002). The microsystem technology industry, which is known as a high tech sector (Walsh, 2004), has an enabling character, which means it is “...no industry per se but a set of technologies with the potential to transform various fields” (Powell, Koput, & Smith-Doerr, 1996: p123). Microsystem technology, therefore, has a knowledge intensive nature, a complex and rapidly expanding knowledge base and is developed in networks rather than in individual firms (Powell et al., 1996).
In high tech industries like microsystem technology there is a relatively large share of New Technology Based Firms (NTBFs) with a good knowledge base (Powell et al., 1996). New technology based firms can be spin-offs from universities or larger firms, intended to commercialise new technology. Due to their small size, they face a lack of resources to acquire all necessary knowledge themselves (Rothwell, 1989;
Spencer & Kirchhoff, 2006), making networking necessary. Networking also helps established firms. By means of getting engaged in networks, these established firms can keep up with the rapidly expanding knowledge base despite their lower level of flexibility (Hoang & Antoncic, 2003). In addition, both NTBFs and established firms seem to benefit from organisations and activities that seek to improve the general conditions in which innovation takes place. These activities are called collective action.
Collective action can be defined as actions that intend to improve the conditions at collective level that may benefit not only individual firms and organisations, but also the industry as a whole (Breshnahan, Gambardella, & Saxenian, 2001). Examples of conditions at collective level that seem important are the availability of funding (Colombo, Grilli, & Verga, 2007; Oakey, 2003), knowledge exchange between different firms and between firms and universities (Lee, Lee, & Pennings, 2001), favourable innovation policies (Breshnahan et al., 2001), and visibility and legitimacy of actions (Zimmerman & Zeitz, 2002).
Because of the importance of these conditions, collective action is expected to contribute the commercialisation of microsystem technology. Yet it is unclear which and how collective action is most
helpful. Therefore, the research question is:
How does collective action in innovation networks contribute to the successful commercialisation of innovations in microsystem technology in the Netherlands?
This thesis provides more insight into the role of collective action within an emerging high tech sector. It provides more insight into the contribution of collective action to successful commercialisation within such a sector, and it provides some recommendations for its actors. This is done in three steps. The first step is investigating which collective action is applied in microsystem technology commercialisation.
Second, the question who performs the actions on behalf of who is answered. Thirdly, the degree of importance of collective actions is investigated. The thesis is built up as follows. The next section contains The contribution of collective action to the commercialisation of high technology a literature review providing the relevant concepts and their characteristics. Thereafter, the operationalisation of the concepts is described. Then, the cases that are investigated are introduced, as well as the methods applied. The results section contains reconstructions of the cases in which microsystem technology is commercialised in innovation projects in the Netherlands. The data are collected by means of interviews and document analysis. In the discussion, the results are compared and linked to the theory on each aspect of collective action. Finally, a provisional answer to the question how collective action contributes to successful commercialisation of microsystem technology in the Netherlands is given.
2 Theories of collective action
2.1 Clusters and networks This section discusses the literature that involves collective action within networks of innovation. Scholars have studied innovation in networks, especially within complex high tech sectors. Technology clusters of firms are defined as “... geographically proximate groups of interconnected companies and associated institutions in a particular field, linked by commonalities and complementarities” (Porter, 2000: p16).
They are inter alia described in terms of triple helices, in which firms, universities, and governments jointly shape innovation systems that continuously change (Etzkowitz, 2000; Lee et al., 2001). They are also described in terms of interlinked entrepreneurial entities, in which the building of knowledge infrastructure and provision of education helps knowledge spillovers from academic research to flourish within NTBFs (Kirchhoff & Phillips, 1988; Kirchhoff et al., 2007). In order to map the actors present within a network, cluster theory can be applied. It teaches us that entrepreneurial activities are important, but also that universities and governments are important factors behind success.
Due to the high tech and enabling character of microsystem technology, it is expected that innovation takes place in networks (Powell et al., 1996; Leana & Van Buuren, 1999). Networks are able to lead to more innovative output, because the linkages between firms and between firms and universities in such a network lead to knowledge spillovers (Ahuja, 2000), combination of knowledge and skills, and access to new markets (Pittaway, Robertson, Munir, Denyer, & Neely, 2004), all of which facilitate innovation.
Scientific literature describes networks as forms of cooperation in between firms and markets, being legally independent, but economically dependent (Musiolik & Markard, 2011). More than cluster theory, network theory is able to describe the presence of some form of coordination or common purpose of interconnected companies and associated institutes. In order to describe this, it is necessary to involve literature on collective action.
Currently, there is limited insight in formalised collective initiatives from a theoretical point of view (Pittaway et al., 2004). Cooke and Willis (1999) relate the presence of an innovative climate to the presence of social capital, which is the presence of trust within interactions, but they do not elaborate on what actions to take in order to promote innovation in high tech networks. However, the importance of collective action for innovation networks in order to benefit from knowledge spillovers and the combination of knowledge and skills is recognised. Also, the importance for the access of new markets is recognised (Leana & Van Buuren, 1999).