Management and Marketing - Masters by Research Theses

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    Exploring capabilities driving SME development of technological readiness within the marine sector
    (University College Cork, 2022-05-18) Sadeghi Gargari, Negar; Shinnick, Edward; Dooley, Lawrence
    SMEs contribute to the economy along with industrial expansion. However, there are challenges for SMEs in the present environment to keep pace with the turbulent technological advances, and most new technologies fail to traverse the gap between the proof-of-concept and prototype demonstrated in the relevant environment (valley of death between TRL 3 to 7). This requires detailed real-time information on the challenges of SMEs through the chronological evolution path and required capabilities to develop their technology and bring it to the market. Given the vast quantities of untapped renewable energy, the strategic importance of the sector and the emergence of a cluster of such SMEs, this exploratory study focused on how technology-based SMEs can develop technological, organisational, and managerial capabilities through their technology development to move from proof-of-concept to scalable prototyping through the technology readiness spectrum. For this purpose, the research started with a survey of the existing population for a broad understanding of the subject through 33 quantitative questionnaires. Then, three explorative interviews were conducted to delve into issues raised in questionnaire results, and finally, an in-depth analysis was carried out to assess the issues raised in questionnaires by nine qualitative case studies. The results showed that technology development programs do not only rely on technological capabilities and must prioritise organizational and managerial capabilities and outsource the capability gaps through partnerships with academic institutions, SMEs, large companies, and the customer market. In this regard, consistent learning from prior experiences and knowledge transfer between SMEs and large companies in the marine energy sector and other sectors is crucial for developing technological capabilities. Besides, experimental analysis and testing at test facilities and sites require a robust, scalable idea regarding the facilities' technical specifications. Furthermore, the findings highlighted the crucial role of financial resources, which can be achieved by writing convincing grant proposals or creating a cash flow in the firm. This can be achieved by increasing the focus on commercialization even at earlier TRLs by finding intermediary markets. All this can lead to developing organizational capabilities in a firm. Moreover, the results showed that besides technological and organizational capabilities, managerial capabilities and human skills could help SMEs through the valley of death, which requires training in management and business for technology developers. Finally, the networking and partnership capability is particularly significant to fill the capability gaps, which should be facilitated by government assistance. The research findings will contribute to improving the ability of SME marine renewable energy firms to develop their technology and bring it to the market for societal benefit. Implications for theory, marine energy technology developers and policy offer a deeper understanding of how we can better nurture marine-based SMEs in traversing across the valley of death (TRL3-TRL7) by developing technological, organizational, managerial, and external capabilities.
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    Plastic-free UCC: exploring societal and marketing levers
    (University College Cork, 2020-12) Hughes, Aoife; Byrne, Edmond; O'Neill, Claire; Dunphy, Niall; Mullally, Gerard; Kirrane, Maria; University College Cork
    Plastic pollution is a visible symbol of the increasingly urgent environmental issues facing our world. Single-use plastic packaging comprises about half of plastic waste produced, much of which is used briefly before disposal (UNEP 2018). Meanwhile only approximately 9% of all plastic generated by 2015 were recycled (Geyer et al. 2017). Such figures highlight an entrenched and unhealthy reliance on single-use plastic (SUP) within the current dominant social paradigm which promotes unsustainable levels of growth in consumption and disposal. This research examines how sustainable practices can be facilitated and supported within University College Cork to transition away from SUP. This was done using a mixed method approach of surveys and interviews to examine how stakeholders and community members navigated sustainable behaviour and what barriers they encountered. The research highlights the persistence of cost, availability of alternatives, personal preferences and unsustainable defaults as barriers to sustainable consumption. Infrastructure also influenced behaviour with a lack of supporting infrastructure limiting the adoption of sustainable alternatives. The attitude-behaviour gap also emerged as a barrier to behaviour change re-affirming the need for systemic change rather than relying on individuals to drive changes. The research shows the importance of those in leadership roles prioritising sustainability and the importance of sustainable champions to drive middle-out change in behaviours and policies. Finally, the research highlights the need for stakeholder involvement and collaboration to sustain sustainability initiatives and for their feedback to be used to adapt initiatives.
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    Exploring innovation within low and medium technology SMEs: a qualitative study of Irish food companies
    (University College Cork, 2020-05-11) Collins, Evan; Dooley, Lawrence; Mccarthy, Mary; O'Reilly, Seamus; University College Cork
    R&D is a key determinant of innovation and yet Low and Medium Technology (LMT) industries by their definition, do not invest heavily in this driver of innovation. Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) account for the majority of enterprises, contributing significantly to economic output, employment and the regional economy of developed countries. In fact, much of the SME population operate in LMT industries and have continued to survive and grow in the face of market turbulence. Given their economic importance and sustainability, the question of if and how these LMT SMEs innovate is an important one, especially given that they are disadvantaged relative to both the scale and R&D intensity of larger enterprises. This innovation research concentrates on the largely silent enterprise majority of LMT SMEs (Hirsch-Kreinsen et al., 2005; Dooley et al., 2017; Trott and Simms, 2017; Hullova et al, 2019) to gain better insights into the nature and management of innovation within such firms and the organisational capabilities that nurture their innovation output and continued survival. Encouragingly, numerous innovation researchers have begun to explore the innovation activity of the LMT sector and the SME’ within same (Bender and Laestadius, 2005; Kirner et al., 2009; Hansen, 2010; Som and Kirner, 2015; Hirsch-Kreinsen, 2015; Dooley and O’Sullivan, 2018; Flor et al., 2019). This research answers calls by Robertson et al. (2009), Hirsch-Kreinsen (2015), Som and Kirner (2015) and Hullova et al., (2019) for increased study of this largely ‘forgotten sector’ and how they innovate for survival and growth. In addressing this gap in innovation research, the research employs a qualitative case-based approach that studies seven cases of LMT SMEs within the food sector in Ireland. Cases were developed through multiple interviews of management team members (including the general manager/owner) across the seven cases that agreed to participate. The research findings highlight that LMT SMEs innovate for survival and growth and that this innovation activity is primarily incremental in nature. The predominant innovation undertaken by such firms is that of constant process innovation, ensuring continued enterprise efficiency and survival, followed in strategic importance by periodic product innovation that nurtures enterprise growth. The findings highlight that although management of the innovation process is often ad hoc in nature, the centralised decision power within key individuals (e.g. entrepreneurial Managing Director) permits an opportunistic yet focused trajectory to innovation activity. While acknowledging significant resource constraints and low investment in traditional R&D, the research highlights that LMT SME leverage capabilities, both internal within the venture and from external sources to support innovation. The research highlights the importance of the capabilities of collaboration, Managing Director entrepreneurial orientation, deep knowledge of and interaction with the customer base and a learning mode of doing, using and interacting (DUI) as core to their innovation for survival and growth. The main implications of the research are twofold. Firstly, our findings suggest that LMT SMEs innovate constantly and do so in the absence of traditional R&D and the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) learning mode of innovation. Governments and policymakers need to give greater attention to their capability development through policies that enhance management capability and their exposure to a wider network of potential collaborators. Secondly, given the entrepreneurial Managing Director influence across the SME organisation, then education, training and mentoring support of key SME management will nurture innovation for the LMT SME firm survival and growth.