An Inquiry into Disruptive Innovation and the Innovativeness of New Zealand Biotechnology

Trent, Chris
Henry, Stephen
Raine, John
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Doctor of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

The New Zealand biotechnology industry is a significant component of the country's knowledge economy, primarily comprising small to medium-sized enterprises. Operating on a high-risk, high-return model, the industry has a unique history marked by diverse outcomes. This research centres on the examination of disruptive innovation, a concept that has garnered considerable attention, with a specific focus on its application to the commercial aspects of the New Zealand biotechnology sector.

While previous studies have indicated that disruptive innovations often emerge in low-end segments or new markets, their relevance to the progressive biotechnology industry remains unclear. There is a need for a deeper understanding of disruptive innovation, particularly concerning its definition and the strategies that underpin its implementation by companies. Moreover, the level of innovativeness in biotechnology companies is not widely comprehended. An objective of this research is to establish a perceived innovativeness diagnostic scorecard for companies. The strategic utility of this diagnostic tool is particularly significant as it empowers decision-makers to identify areas for potential innovation, thereby enabling more informed decision-making and fostering competitive resilience within the biotechnology landscape.

The methodology utilised is a mixed-method pragmatic approach, incorporating both quantitative and qualitative methods. An online survey and structured, in-person interviews were conducted to explore the alignment between academic and practitioner perspectives on disruptive innovation and its potential theoretical foundations. Archival and data mining methods were employed to profile the New Zealand biotechnology landscape. The data underwent further analysis using a perceived innovativeness diagnostic scorecard, developed through multiple criteria decision analysis. This involved an adjusted and combined analytical hierarchy process, utilising pairwise comparisons and simple additive weighting between criteria to assess the relationship between perceived innovativeness and success.

The outcomes of the study include a purposeful definition of disruptive innovation that aligns with both practitioner and academic viewpoints. Additionally, a set of potential foundations for disruptive innovation in the biotechnology sector was identified. For the first time, the research mapped the entirety of the New Zealand biotech industry, focusing on companies founded and operated within the country. Finally, the study generated a perceived innovativeness diagnostic measure to analyse the New Zealand biotechnology landscape, revealing that companies perceived as highly innovative may be associated with unfavourable success outcomes, subject to the caveats outlined in the thesis.

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