New media : the affects of networking and cluster co-location upon learning and innovation : a case study of Brighton and Hove
This thesis builds on the findings from previous research, where the conventional wosodm suggests that cluster co-location and networking have a positive affect upon small firm learning and innovation. The researcher perceived the need to test the efficacy of these findings with the claimed 'new-media' cluster in the city of Brighton and Hove. A detailed analysis of the literature contributed to the development of a conceptual framework from which five propositions and 23 research questions were derived. The researcher's philosophical stance recognised the subjective nature of the social world and therefore a largely qualitative epistemology was followed. An interview instrument was designed and implemented through 17 new media owner-managers, and the findings were compiled, coded, analysed, and then compared to the previous research studies. The analysis found some evidence of new media clustering, but it was clear that some of the key characteristice were missing, namely the co-location of customers and competitors, thus forming a hybrid cluster. The networking practices of the sample new media firms were found to be limited to working with complimentary digital services suppliers and freelancers, while suppliers and key institutional agencies, although co-located, were not considered important networking partners. The paradox that arises is that customers are considered the most important networking partner but they are generally not co-located. Learning and innovation are very important to the new media sample firms, because of the need to manage discontinuous technological and market changes. The hybrid nature of the cluster, however, and the limited networking practice of the respondent firms, limits the full potential for learning and innovation to occur. In addition, factors such as firm size and limited resources also dictate that most innovation is customer-driven and of an incremental rather than a radical nature. The thesis concludes that the conceptual framework is only partially proven and using Pooper's (1964) falsification principle, the research propositions do not hold. From this, a series of recommendations are made concerning theory development, future research and professional practice, that should help enhance new media firms' ability to learn and innovate in the future.