Understanding responsible innovation in small producers’ clusters in Northern Vietnam: A grounded theory approach to globalization and poverty alleviation

J.J. Voeten

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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The PhD thesis explores new economic dynamics within poor small producers’ clusters in craft villages in northern Vietnam; a country in full economic swing after market economy reforms and opening up to the world. The central research question of the thesis - positioned in current debates about poverty alleviation, small business, globalization and sustainable development - reads: How to understand responsible innovation within poor small producers’ clusters in Vietnam following the country’s integration into the global economy? The question is addressed in four subsequent published articles that draw on empirical studies involving grounded theory. The first article advances an operational definition of innovation for informally organized small producers’ clusters in Vietnam, enabling the identification of a number of cases of cluster-level innovation. The second article discusses the responsible innovation concept in the context of developing economies, arguing that it should be combined with current notions of poverty alleviation and sustainable development. The article concludes that it is problematic to evaluate responsible innovation on the basis of outcomes. This conclusion lays the basis for the third article which articulates an alternative approach that models responsible innovation as a societal process in which innovators acknowledge responsibility in resolving societal conflict as a result of harmful outcomes. The fourth article explores the dynamics of this societal process through Actor-Network Theory (ANT) in which all human actors and materiality are allowed and enrolled into a network. The PhD thesis concludes with ideas for further theory development and the policy implications of the findings of this thesis.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Tilburg University
  • de Haan, Job, Co-promotor
  • Roome, Nigel, Promotor
Thesis sponsors
Award date18 Dec 2012
Place of PublicationTilburg
Print ISBNs9789056683351
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • inclusive innovation
  • poverty
  • Vietnam
  • grounded theory
  • qualitative research


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