Perceptions and attitudes to the implementation of innovations in small restaurants: A case study on Victoria’s small restaurant industry
thesisposted on 06.09.2021, 05:21 by Malik AbidMalik Abid
Although the restaurant industry plays a pivotal role in the growth of a country’s economy, mainly by contributing through employment, national revenue and GDP boost, many small restaurants fail during their early years of operation. The potential reasons behind their failure include narrow perception of innovation and barriers toward innovation. This research aims to explore how innovation is perceived and practised, and how various barriers impact the restaurant industry. This study considers the qualitative research methodology with semi-structured interviews as a tool to collect data. The sample of the study included 20 small restaurant owners in Victoria who were chosen by convenience and snowball sampling techniques. To assess the interview transcripts, this research applies two analysis techniques that are thematic analysis and phenomenographic analysis. The study found that the restaurant owners perceived innovation as important particularly to achieve value proposition and operational excellence. For value proposition, the most popular technique was offering deals and discounts on the product while innovating equipment was considered most important for operational excellence. Also, among four innovation categories (product, process, marketing and organisational innovation), the restaurant owners perceived process innovation to be the most impactful. This research further categorised into three types. These are typical attitudes, proactive attitudes, and complacent attitudes. The majority of restaurant owners exhibited typical attitudes towards product innovation, process innovation, marketing innovation, and organisational innovation. Organisational innovation received the highest typical attitudes and the least proactive attitudes. Financial constraints and employee barriers were noted as the main barriers to the implementation of innovation. Phenomenographic analysis further revealed that the barriers negatively affected customer service, product differentiation, production efficiency, operational efficiency, brand awareness, brand positioning, public relations, employee professionalism, and employee loyalty. This study adds new insights into the existing body of literature by application of the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) to investigate less explored areas – perceptions, attitudes, and barriers regarding innovation in the restaurant industry. Additionally, this study is unique as it investigates Australian small restaurant owners’ perceptions of innovation through thematic and phenomenographic analysis. The perception-related findings of the study can help entrepreneurs in the industry prioritising their innovative strategies in a post-COVID-19 uncertain environment. The reflections on attitudes of the restaurant owners highlight the opportunities for innovative entrepreneurs and investors in the industry. The results from the research can also help restaurant owners prepare a mitigation plan for risks associated with barriers or avoid the potential barriers.