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Title: Where science meets innovation : organising technology research groups in response to mandates for societal and economic impact
Author: Ellwood, Paul
ISNI:       0000 0004 5364 220X
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2014
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Scientific knowledge resulting from university research is an important feature in the contemporary landscape of technology innovation. However, the terms on which such science contributes to innovation have recently been the subject of contentious policy and public discourse. These debates have both challenged scientists’ position to pronounce on the standards by which their work should be judged, whilst at the same time requiring them to more actively contribute towards the beneficial outcomes of their research. In a space that I describe as where science meets innovation, these various discourses have coalesced under the headings of “Research Impact” and “Responsible Innovation”. This thesis reports an inductive case study of how two nanotechnology research groups have sought to respond to this shifting policy landscape. Recognising established modes of realising economic impact through the commercialisation of science, these rich case studies shed light on the dynamics of such innovation work. Furthermore, framing the innovation challenge as one comprising the development of organisational capabilities, allows the response to new policy mandates for societal impact to be discerned. In this thesis I argue for the importance of managerial agency in both sustaining established capabilities and developing new capabilities for science-led innovation. The analysis of empirical case material reveals the importance of the level of uncertainty that exists for innovation actors in connecting their research actions to innovation impacts. In conditions of low uncertainty, then a strong, stable professional identity for scientists, allied to known standards of excellence, provides a sure guide of action. Contemporary discourse about the contribution of science to innovation has destabilised such identity and standards. These case studies reveal that scientists, in a more forward-looking and reflective display of managerial agency, have engaged in the development of new capabilities that allow their work to speak to a wider constituency of interests.
Supervisor: Thorpe, Richard ; Pandza, Krsto Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available