Collaborative innovation in the public sector to manage GNSS CORS technology in Thailand

Srichai, Saowanee and Smith, Marisa and Van Der Meer, Robert and Flett, Peter (2019) Collaborative innovation in the public sector to manage GNSS CORS technology in Thailand. In: 26th EurOMA Conference, 2019-06-17 - 2019-06-19, Hanken School of Economics.

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Purpose of the research Public and private organisations in sectors such as health care, construction and logistics that require satellite data for ensuring target locations are faced with a proliferation of positioning applications. Continuously Operating Reference Stations (CORS) constitutes one of the technologies designed as a supplement to Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signals to improve positioning precision (GPS.GOV, 2017). Effectively implementing this land-based augmentation system has presented difficulties for countries such as Thailand. In particular, independent ownership and management of the GNSS CORS network has led to problems of duplication and overinvestment and the lack of facility sharing has adverse effects on the budgetary requirements of individual CORS users. To resolve such complications, the various Thai government agencies involved have developed a form of collaborative innovation. But this must take account of the different levels of power among the CORS licence holders based on their number of assets and major missions. Bommert (2010) contends that collaborative innovation is closely connected the public sector concept of networked government and the private sector concept of open innovation. He argues that collaborative innovation should open the innovation cycle to innovation assets controlled by both internal and external players, and facilitate risk taking in the public sector. However, as Simon et al. (2016) argue, getting multiple stakeholders to approach innovation in a collaborative manner involves complex challenges related to knowledge boundaries, interest and ownership. The present study into the complexity of managing the GNSS CORS system in Thailand aims to analyse how different government agencies are collaborating in terms of data gathering, data management and service distribution. Our study will also evaluate the role played by prominent owners of GNSS network infrastructure in this collaboration. Design An earlier case study of interagency cooperation relating to GNSS reference station administration in Australia has shown the need to make proper allowance for the innovation capability of each participating organisation and to assign the separate key roles (Hausler and Philip, 2013; Higgins, 2008). Based on the apparent similarities, we seek to build on the Australian research findings in our own study of GNSS CORS management in Thailand. 2 A central feature of the Australian case was the establishment of ANZLIC as the top government body in Australia and New Zealand responsible for the accessibility and usability of spatial information (ANZLIC, 2019). In Thailand, nine organisations are getting involved in GNSS ground infrastructure technology, including six government agencies and three universities – for instance, the Royal Thai Survey Department, the Department of Lands, and Chulalongkorn University (Rizos and Satirapod, 2011). Our research is founded on a realist ontology combined with a multi-methodology approach including interviews and in-depth case studies. In practical terms, this involves focus group interviews with six organisations who own the base stations in Thailand and expert interviews with academics from three universities, supported by simultaneous analysis of the Australian case study documentation. The data collection phase started in the summer of 2018 and is currently ongoing. Following transcription and translation of the focus group and expert interviews, detailed content analysis is applied and findings are compared. Findings Data collection and analysis will continue for another year. But based on a preliminary analysis of the primary research data already collected, we can summarise the participants’ perspectives in two key areas; namely, the positioning of the different organisations in the collaborative innovation effort and the precise nature and shape of the coordination framework. First, the interviewees are concerned about: whether public collaborative innovation relating to GNSS technology will come into effect; which government agency (between the one who has the maximum number of the assets and the one who has core responsibility for state surveying) should be the project leader; which organisation should be the national data centre; what should be the shape of the cooperation design; what business model should be selected; and what technology should be installed for the overall network configuration. Second, the interviewees desire effective regulations or policies for inter-organisational cooperation so that each organisation is allocated a suitable role and appropriate authority is given to each office. Contribution The ultimate goal of our research is to support the adoption of the policy framework for strengthening the GNSS CORS collaborative innovation in Thailand. This will include the development of a viable business model to formulate budgetary guidance and resolve budgetary issues. From a theoretical perspective, our research contributes to a better understanding of the roles that each of the stakeholders should play in a collaborative innovation effort, taking account of their different levels of power and interest. Collaborative innovation holds considerable promise in breaking individual policy deadlocks, minimising system-wide investment costs and improving public service quality. However, Bommert’s (2010) contention still holds: there is an urgent need for empirical research, typically in the form of in-depth case studies, to substantiate such potential benefits. Our research aims to make an original contribution to fulfilling this need.