Improving the Innovation Performance of Ireland’s Dairy Industry
An Innovation Systems Approach
- PhD thesis, 2014: Christina Ryan
- Supervisor: Frank Devitt (Maynooth University) & Kevin Heanue (Teagasc)
This thesis provides new insights into innovation in Ireland’s dairy industry. The thesis measures the innovation performance of dairy products on global markets and uses the framework of innovation systems to explore why and how innovation brokers are established as an essential part of the innovation system, and also how systemic instruments are designed and implemented to effect achievement of policy goals. A variety of methods are used to provide new empirical, theoretical and policy relevant knowledge concerning innovation activity at various points in the Irish agri-food sector. The research is organised into three separate studies.
Study 1 profiles the innovation performance of selected dairy products, viz. butter, cheese and infant milk formula over the time period 2000-2010, using international trade data. The analysis uses Kaplinsky and Readman (2005) framework, which was developed to assess product and process upgrading and downgrading as a measure of relative innovation performance, by combining two innovation indicators, unit price and market share. The results show that the innovation performance of the three product categories has declined within the period studied. Although price reduction strategies undertaken by cheese manufacturers have improved its market share, the same approach did not help butter and infant milk formula manufacturers sustain their market position.
Study 2 adopts a problem focused innovation system perspective to explore the phenomenon of part time innovation brokering. Drawing on the innovation brokering literature, the activities of seven part time innovation brokers are examined to identify how they fulfil their role. The empirical setting is national mastitis control programme, CellCheck, and the seven dairy processor regional coordinators appointed as part time brokers. The study contributes new insights on the activities of part time innovation brokers and provides recommendations on measures to support these types of brokers in the fulfilment of their role.
Study 3 explores the design of systemic instruments to support functional change in the Irish agri-food sector. Using a case study approach, the Wieczorek and Hekkert framework (2012) is used to examine the design and implementation of two systemic instruments in the Irish agri-food industry: Origin Green and Food for Health Ireland (FHI). The findings show that the framework provides a guide for policy makers in the design and implementation of systemic instruments. Furthermore, the study contributes empirical knowledge on the role, nature and selection of policy tools in the achievement of systemic instrument goals. However, more applications of the framework are needed to draw conclusions on the theoretical role of policy tools in the implementation of systemic instruments.