Innovation Processes of Cymbopogon Citratus Tea in Manipur, India: An Actor Network Theory Perspective

Innovation Processes of Cymbopogon Citratus Tea in Manipur, India: An Actor Network Theory Perspective

Wairokpam Premi Devi (Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar, India) and Hemant Kumar (Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar, India)
DOI: 10.4018/IJANTTI.2016070102
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By adopting Actor Network Theory (ANT) in the empirical context of Cymbopogon citratus Tea (CC Tea) in Manipur, this paper analyses the networks of key actors in the innovation process. Innovation happens when there is an interaction between actors, institutions and economic structures across the level of hierarchy. In this process, there has been a close association between human and non human. Ethnographic case study is used to understand the socio-cultural and ethnographical context of key actors in the CC Tea innovation process. Semi structured in-depth interview has been conducted to the selected areas. It concludes that ANT is highly significant to understand the networks of humans and non humans associated with the innovation process thereby giving a new theoretical interpretation in the Science and Technology Studies (STS) domain in this sector.
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The most important factor for entrepreneurs to increase competitiveness and create wealth is innovation as it responds to the demands and opportunities of a globalising economy (Porter, 1990). The chances of survival of small firms and success are becoming increasingly dependent on innovation. It happens when there is an interaction between actors, institutions and economic structures across the level of the system. The innovation process and practices associated with the introduction of new knowledge that leads to new technologies, or new products, or different ways of doing business such as the means to enlarge markets, create more value and turn that value into a higher revenue stream. Therefore, it is not possible to get a comprehensive overview without combining insights from several disciplines and Science, Technology and Society (STS) studies could be one. In this light, we are using an Actor-Network Theory (ANT) framework to understand the innovation processes in CC Tea in Manipur, India. Moreover, ANT was developed in the empirical domain of western paradigm, and most of the literature on ANT is primarily in the global context (Busch and Juska, 1997; Suryanata, 2002; Lougheed, 2013). However, in the context of developing countries like India, few studies are adopting this analytical framework. Moreover, these theoretical contributions seem to be a missing dimension in the Northeast part of India in general and Manipur in particular. Lack of existing literature in the academic domain of ANT in India is the primary motivation for selecting this framework. Therefore, the proposed work would attempt to see the applicability of ANT analytical framework in the empirical case study in the Indian context.

Also, we are trying to answer the questions like: What is the process of innovation? What is the origin and limits of the programmes of action and how players are listed to stabilise the sets of relationships? And, how is the agency in humans and non-humans manifested in these relations? These questions provide an opportunity to examine the innovation process in the food industry or beverage sector by taking the case study of CC Tea in Manipur. Thus, ANT and the sociology of translation is an appropriate framework to address the empirical context of this case and helps to identify the human and non-human entities that make the innovation successful.

Following this introduction, the paper presents a review of the existing literature on ANT in the next session where authors explore the underlying meaning of the framework. The section presents scholarly work applying ANT to know the scope of the framework and its application to the innovation processes. It further discusses the methodology, and analyses the case of CC Tea. Lastly, the authors present the conclusion section.

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