A question of impact: Exploring knowledge utilisation within the UK low carbon innovation system

Successful innovation requires organisations to promote the utilisation of both technology and knowledge amongst the diverse actors who operate within innovation eco-systems. Many of these programmes utilise public funds to drive innovation and engage stakeholders. These public funded programmes come under increasing scrutiny to demonstrate impact as a return on research investment. Knowledge generated within the UK low carbon energy innovation system has the potential to facilitate the achievement of national and supra-national emission targets. Research and practical application in this field has historically centred on technology transfer whilst under-emphasising the crucial role of knowledge within this complex, socio-technical innovation system. This paper presents the results of a qualitative case study undertaken within a knowledge intensive public-private partnership as a component of its knowledge management strategy. The study aimed to explore the perceptions of staff relating to the organisation’s knowledge activities prior to a planned stakeholder engagement event. Fourteen semi-structured interviews were undertaken, and thematic network analysis applied to reveal four major themes. The analysis shows that wider system influences affect how actors perceive their role within the innovation system. Implications for the organisation’s managers are herein suggested which could add value to the organisation and increase knowledge utilisation amongst stakeholder groups. Implications include: clarifying utilisation objectives; tailoring knowledge activities; and introducing ongoing feedback cycles. This paper provides a foundation for future empirical work, which aims to compare knowledge utilisation within different organisational structures and identify best practice within the UK low carbon innovation system.