An innovations system for Australia's minerals and mining sector: what works and what doesn't in the context of Australia's current public policy frameworks?

Mardle, Bryan David (2012). An innovations system for Australia's minerals and mining sector: what works and what doesn't in the context of Australia's current public policy frameworks? PhD Thesis, School of Political Science & Internat'l Studies, The University of Queensland.

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Author Mardle, Bryan David
Thesis Title An innovations system for Australia's minerals and mining sector: what works and what doesn't in the context of Australia's current public policy frameworks?
School, Centre or Institute School of Political Science & Internat'l Studies
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2012-12
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Paul Boreham
David Brereton
Total pages 193
Total colour pages 3
Total black and white pages 190
Language eng
Subjects 1606 Political Science
160601 Australian Government and Politics
Formatted abstract
This thesis is concerned with identifying the factors that contribute to an appropriate innovations system (IS) for Australia’s minerals and mining sector that can successfully operate within Australia’s public policy framework and its current economic model. Findings drawn from this research will be relevant not only in identifying a successful IS model for the mining sector, but will also assist in revealing IS for Australian industry in general.

The OECD has identified Australian innovation and research and development (R&D) as an ‘innovation laggard’ and theoretical and empirical evidence suggest that this reputation is well founded. Further, the literature on IS predominantly suggest that Australia’s neoliberal economic strategies are unsuited to a successful IS model, although the research presents arguments to counter this proposition. Contrary to negative assessments of Australian innovation and research and development in other sectors, the research presented in this thesis reveals a minerals and mining sector IS model that is preeminent in its field for global innovation in mining innovation.

The evidence presented in the thesis is framed by an assessment of two strands of literature: The first concerns the public policy responses and initiatives by government(s) that have underpinned the development Australia’s minerals and mining sector. It argues that there have been two broad economic strategies since federation: protectionism until the 1970-80s followed by neoliberalism. Both these strategies represent broad-based macroeconomic policies that encourage a laissez-faire political approach whereby governments and firms keep each other at arms length.

The second strand of literature reviewed provides the basis for three main lines of inquiry: It presents a definition of innovation and its relevance in an Australian context; identifies and examines the relative merits of three main innovation systems (IS); and, identifies Sectoral Innovation Systems (SIS) as the preferred IS model for the Australian minerals and mining sector. SIS is a good fit for minerals and mining sector innovation because it is a bottom-up, firm centric, neoliberal model that allows industrial and economic performance to be measured not only within countries, but also between similar sectors from various countries.

Case study research is utilised to assess the central hypothesis of the dissertation. The research data is organised around eight key themes and sets of sub-topics to enable both a thorough examination of the current innovation process and the complex synergies, linkages and collaborations that must exist between mining firms, public research institutions (PRIs) and policy makers for successful innovation to occur.

The research provides evidence that there exist in Australia extenuating factors and unique sets of circumstances that have enabled the facilitation of a highly developed and proficient SIS that has enabled Australia to become a global leader in mining innovation.

The research findings make a contribution to knowledge of innovation systems and how they relate to the Australian minerals and mining sector. The findings also shed light on how successful IS models might be developed for other Australian industries. It also reveals that all science and technology innovation presents a set of varying and challenging circumstances and as such each should be considered on their merits in the political and economic context of industry development.
Keyword Innovation, innovation systems, minerals and mining,
Mining innovation, mining history,
Mining and public policy,
Mining and public research institutions,
Mining and R&D, OECD

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Created: Mon, 05 Nov 2012, 11:11:51 EST by Bryan Mardle on behalf of Scholarly Communication and Digitisation Service