Activity theory as a lens for managerial innovation in the Kuwaiti Amiri Guard

Aldaremi, A 2022, Activity theory as a lens for managerial innovation in the Kuwaiti Amiri Guard , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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This research explores managerial innovation (MI) and its embeddedness in the characteristics of a public-sector military organisation. MI reflects novel organisational structures, administrative systems, management practices, processes, and techniques with value-creation potential for organisations. Moreover, it facilitates organisational development through the utilisation of new approaches so that resources can be utilised to their full potential. Innovation has primarily been associated with the private sector, where the concept and definitions were initially developed. Therefore, to investigate MI in the military, a less frequently explored domain, a systematic analysis of MI in the public- and private-sector contexts becomes necessary. This research focuses its lens on the manner in which MI is realised with respect to the organisational activities in a military setting. To achieve this, the activities were viewed within the context of the policies/rules/regulations and those individuals who perform their respective roles in carrying out the organisational activities. Furthermore, focus was placed on the tools utilised or necessary to successfully conduct the organisational activities. To understand the organisational setting in terms of the activities requiring MI implementation, activity theory was utilised to provide a basis to explore the organisational setting in view of three dimensions: the subjects, objects, and tools of MI. This researcher selected the Kuwaiti Amiri Guard as the case study for this investigation, which is responsible for military duties such as providing protection for the heads of state and the Royal Palaces. This case was selected since, to date, no investigation has been conducted to explore the military organisation, despite the Kuwait Vision 2035's focus on the need to develop a sustainable diversified economy, creative human capital, and progressive infrastructure. An in-depth systematic literature review was undertaken for consideration of the MI concepts that exist in the public sector. From this review, the conceptualisation of a framework was derived and inspired from activity theory, which led to the adoption of an activity system in order to facilitate understanding of how MI might evolve within certain public-sector military organisations. Qualitative data were then collected through semi-structured interviews with 25 key decision makers and leaders of the Kuwaiti Amiri Guard (i.e., the head of the organisation, heads of branch, and unit leaders), while the data analysis utilised template analysis and grounded theory. The data analysis found that the current MI practice within the organisation involves a certain degree of top-down directed innovation, with potential to shift this MI practice towards greater directed and undirected (bottom-up) innovation through innovative skills, leading to the creation of an organisational structure grounded in innovative practice. However, the investigation identified limited resources and capabilities available for MI implementation. Furthermore, the study found insufficient opportunities for MI development due to time pressures, the interactivity of human resources, and the technical capability. The need to integrate the tools of MI (e.g., information and communication technology, the internet of (military) things, and management information systems) at the organisation was found to be restricted by issues relating to non-inclusive decision-making, availability of funds, the rigid organisational structure, and the lack of dedicated MI professionals (talent) or an MI department. However, the case study identified a willingness to adopt MI practices and recognition of where these could benefit the activities of the organisation, thus presenting the Kuwaiti Amiri Guard as an MI-friendly organisation where MI implementation can prosper and help fulfil the organisation's obligations under the Kuwait Vision 2035 strategic development plan. A Kuwaiti Amiri Guard Theoretical MI Framework emerged from the data analysis, which can enable GCC-based military organisations, and public-sector organisations in other nations featuring similar contexts, to utilise the framework for the evaluation of their current MI usage and the scope to develop the full potential of the organisation through the transformation process. The internal and external validity of the resulting MI framework were determined in this study through its appraisal and the responses from three military organisations based in Kuwait. The developed framework will enable the assessment of the organisational subjects of MI (i.e., the processes, mechanisms, and systems of management), objects of MI (i.e., the leaders, management, and staff) and tools of MI (i.e., ICT advancement and integration) to realise the benefits of information accuracy, cost-savings, efficiencies, improved collaboration, and increased performance. Furthermore, this study presents a roadmap as an empirical resource for military organisations sharing similar characteristics to develop innovation adoption through the domains of management, leadership, technology, and environment. This research contributes to the paucity of literature in the domain of MI in the military field by extending our understanding of MI concepts in the research context of a military organisation in the Gulf region in general, and in Kuwait in particular. Moreover, the research contributes to knowledge through the development of the Kuwaiti Amiri Guard Theoretical MI Framework, which provides an opportunity for such military organisations to conduct an in-depth analysis of the existing MI pillars and to identify where improvements may be achieved. A further methodological contribution is made through the research methodology and case study coding approach, applied to investigate a military context in a GCC country, namely the Kuwaiti Amiri Guard. This study believes that the developed research methodology has potential for application more widely in military and public-sector organisations that share similarities with the case study in this investigation, thus highlighting the potential transferability of the research methodology.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Contributors: Griffiths, Marie (Supervisor) and Owens, Jonathan (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > Salford Business School
Funders: The Kuwaiti Ministry of Defense
Depositing User: Abdulaziz Aldaremi
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2022 14:58
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2023 02:30

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