Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The productivity and quality of working life of operations across a firm with multiple operating units can be improved by the diffusion of minor innovations within the firm. The benefits to operating performance which result from a continuous stream of small, incremental innovations over time are well documented. The extent that individual minor innovations, called Minor Technical Improvements (MTIs) in this thesis, are actually used or could be potentially used through the firm, is not well documented. This thesis addresses three questions about the diffusion of minor innovations in firms with multiple operating units. (1) To what extent do MTIs actually diffuse? (2) What is the potential for further diffusion of MITs? (3) What are the managerial implications of MTI diffusion for operating improvement?;The field site for the research was 13 operating units of Canada's largest domestic mining company. A total of 73 MTIs were documented on video tape and in writing, taken from 13 mines and mills.;The results indicate that MTIs actually diffuse to other parts of the firm. There is potential for MTIs to diffuse even further. The operating units improved productivity and quality of work life by innovating MTIs within the confines of their own operations. Some of these benefits were transferred to other operating units by the diffusion of MTIs. Even greater benefits could be realized across the research site by further diffusion. The research site may have incurred opportunity costs by not pursing this potential. The research results emphasize the importance of communication as an influence on diffusion.



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