The research project aims to evaluate the extent to which the Communities First Programme has increased levels of innovation activity. The Communities First Programme is a Welsh Assembly Government initiative. The programme is designed to improve ‘opportunities and the quality of life for people living and working in the most disadvantaged communities in Wales’ (Welsh Assembly Government, 2002). The main themes of the Communities First Programme may be stated as: involvement, action, sustainability, innovation, entrepreneurship, problem solving and teamwork. Innovation may be considered to be a learning process, relying partially upon technological competence and partially upon ‘entrepreneurial and learning competence’ (Morgan and Nauwelaers, 1999). Fundamentally, the innovation potential of a region is heavily reliant upon socio cultural factors, which if appropriately developed may enhance the ‘collective learning and diffusion mechanisms’ of a region (Morgan and Nauwelaers, 1999). Indeed, it may be stated that there is a social dimension to successful innovation; Bachmann (2003) identifies the importance of trust in such social interaction between players/stakeholders in the innovation process. It should be noted that the impact of socio-cultural issues upon innovative activity is notoriously difficult to measure. Given that similar socio-cultural traits may affect several regions in differing intensities (Pilon and DeBresson, 2003). Further, Cooke, Roper and Wylie (2002) exploring the social dimension to innovation view innovation as the ‘result of interaction between economic actors in an open social system’. Pilon and DeBresson (2003) refer to the prerequisition of a form of socio-cultural openness as a genesis for innovation. The problematic issue here is likely to be how to capture instances of ‘socially interactive learning’ - to facilitate evaluation. It is highly unlikely that evaluation methods founded on positivist principles may offer a justifiable means to capture such interaction. As champions of the pluralistic paradigm, Diez and Esteban (2002) strongly support the use of ‘participatory evaluation’. This enmeshes with the philosophy of policy evaluation contributing to policy making. Such an approach involves regional innovation policy stakeholders at all levels and at all stages in the policy making process. The research project explores the Communities First Programme in terms of business innovation and social innovation outcomes. Business focused innovation activities such as new: product, service, process or working practices are analysed and evaluated. For social innovation the new activities and services motivated by the goal of social need (Mulgan, 2006) are analysed and evaluated. Ultimately, the research project will consider the extent to which innovation policy stakeholders may/should be involved in the policy making process. As Diez and Esteban (2002) observe, a possible logical progression from stakeholder involvement in policy evaluation to stakeholder involvement in policy formulation.
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||International Center for Business Research Journal|
|Publication status||Published - 30 Jan 2013|